Stellar play by Piedra Vista girls defeats Farmington
It will be difficult for any team to play any better this season than what the Piedra Vista girls did on Tuesday night.
The second-ranked Lady Panthers never strayed from their game plan as they came away with a 60-43 win over archrival Farmington.
“We just happened to be on tonight and they were a little off,” Piedra Vista coach Joe Reed said, whose team improved to 21-1 overall and 4-0 in District 2-5A play. “Our defense made them work and we did the same thing to La Cueva the other night to where we played smothering defense.”
Reed said good defense leads to easy offense and the Panthers demonstrated that midway through the opening quarter as the Scorpions missed seven shots and committed three turnovers.
PV capitalized on those opportunities to open up a 21-6 advantage thanks to a 12-2 quarter ending run.
“We were getting good things off that press,” Reed said while noting that his squad was looking to run plays for sophomore Lanae Billy as she scored 11 of her game-best 23 points in the opening quarter.
“I have the green light to shoot but I like to get my teammates involved too,” Billy said. “We’re more effective that way.”
After a three-point shot from Farmington’s Kiiyani Anitielu to start the second, the Panthers ran off nine of the next 12 points for a 30-14 cushion with 6-0 junior post Bailey Rasmussen making her presence known with three consecutive baskets.
At the break, PV led 34-20.
Farmington coach Larenson Henderson said PV’s defense bothered them but with four freshmen, three sophomores and four juniors the Scorpions are going through a “learning curve.”
“That’s the step we’re taking right now,” he said. “I know it’s frustrating but we just need to be patient. A lot of them didn’t play varsity last year so this environment and this experience is big on them.”
Henderson said it didn’t help matters when they couldn’t make baskets near the rim as they trailed by double digits for a good part of the game.
“We’ve been struggling to make easy baskets,” he said. “How much time we spend shooting depends on the girls. I try to tell them to get out there and do it on their off time because that’s huge.”
With PV cooling down a bit, the Scorps closed the gap to 39-30 on a trey by freshman Kamalani Anitielu late in the third quarter.
But in the final stanza the Panthers reasserted themselves as they pushed the lead to as much as 19 points before the Scorpions got two consecutive treys from sophomore Audrey Henderson to pull within 54-39.
“We got to do a better job because it wasn’t perfect,” Reed said. “We gave up a lot of threes there in the second half. Farmington never used to be known as the three-point shooting team and now you’ve got to respect that because they can light it up.”
Defensively, the Panthers held Kiiyani Anitielu to six points, which is 17 below her average.
“We made Kiiyani work for everything tonight,” he said. “She only had six and she really had to work hard for those six.”
Henderson said it’s not like her to have an “off game” like Tuesday night.
“Kiiyani is a scoring machine but I think she took upon herself to do more than she should and it kind of hurt us,” the Farmington coach said. “At the end when she started to trust her teammates a little bit more we started to get more baskets. I feel like she has to do that a little more so things can start to open up for her.
“That’s the balance of being a basketball player – you want to make your teammates better,” he added. “She’s still in that learning stage of doing that. She’s got to believe in them as much as she believes in herself.”
The Scorpions were led by sophomore Audrey Harrison as she finished with 16 points, which included three treys.
For PV, the visiting team had three players in double figures headed by Billy with Rasmussen helping out with 15 and Elaina Watson chipping in 10.
“It’s been like that all year,” Reed said of his team’s balance scoring. “We like to balance the scoring out and we just want our girls to go out there and execute.”