Top-ranked Farmington girls improve to 11-0
The best girls’ basketball team in New Mexico showed it mettle on Tuesday night.
Despite some rust the Farmington Lady Scorpions (11-0) had its way with Kirtland Central, winning 73-55.
The Scorps were coming off a four-day layoff after clinching the tough Hobbs tournament late last week.
“Having those four days off kind of killed us,” Farmington coach Larenson Henderson said. “We really didn’t do anything when we got back from Hobbs. It was a long trip and it was tiring.
“We had a good rest period and we got our joints healed up but my second five were a little rusty,” he added. “I think we could have done a little more damage if we were in condition.”
According to Maxpreps.com, the Scorps have earned the distinction as the top girls’ team in the state regardless of class. It’s new territory for the Farmington squad and its fourth-year coach.
“This is new and it’s exciting,” Henderson said. “I’m trying to keep the girls motivated because we have to outwork people who are wanting to beat us but I think they’re embracing it.”
On Tuesday night, the Scorps scored in bunches much to the dismay of the Kirtland Central team.
The first outburst came in the opening quarter when Farmington grew a one-point advantage into a 24-10 cushion in a matter of minutes.
With 4:34 left KC guard Teghan Begay got her team within 9-8 but the Scorpions meted out some misery with its defensive pressure.
The Henderson-coached team gave KC three looks at the basket to close out the opening quarter as they forced eight turnovers, including four steals.
During that stretch Farmington guard Kamalani Anitielu scored 10 of her team-best 19 points. Six of her points came from beyond the three-point line as Farmington made six treys in that opening quarter.
“I told the girls that you can lose a game in the first quarter and I think that’s probably what happened,” KC coach Devon Manning said.
With the way their schedule was set up this season, Manning said he didn’t have a chance to see Farmington play prior to Tuesday night’s game.
“We have film on them but film doesn’t show what it really looks like,” he said. “They’re a lot quicker than I realized, and they got shooters everywhere. They got good guards that can penetrate and finish, so there’s a reason why they’re the No. 1 team in New Mexico right now.”
Despite digging a deep hole, the Broncos played evenly with Farmington for the remaining of the half as the team trailed 42-26 at the break.
Midway through the third period they turned a corner, chipping away at the Scorps’ double-digit lead.
An inside shot by senior Adriona Nargo jumpstarted a 13-2 run that spilled into the fourth as KC got as close as 56-50 following a trey by senior guard Aisha Ramone with 7:06 remaining in the fourth.
“That’s the strongest quarter we’ve had all year,” Manning said. “It has nothing to do with points but that’s our best quarter of the year in terms of being physical as a team and being strong.”
That valiant effort, however, was sideswiped as Farmington went on another scoring spree. The Scorps outscored KC 20 to 8 in that final stanza.
“We just ran out of gas,” Manning said. “We put all our energy into that third quarter and I think we just ran out of gas out in that fourth quarter.”
In that fourth stanza, the KC coach said their defensive effort was there but they gave Farmington second, third opportunities.
“They got about four straight offensive rebounds that lead to points to get that separation,” he said. “That’s eight extra points that we’re giving up just because we didn’t rebound.”
Begay paced KC with 19 points while Nargo added 11 and Ramone chipped in nine.
For Farmington, Kamalani Anitielu finished with 19 while her older sister Kiiyani Anitielu scored 16. The Scorps also got 13 from Audrey Henderson and a dozen from Kapiolani Anitielu.
And although the Broncos got within six, Henderson didn’t utilize any of his timeouts.
“I wanted to see how they would handle themselves,” the Farmington coach said. “Even in their tired situation, I wanted to see who’s gonna step up and be a leader, and I left that up to them.”
Henderson said his team understands that they need each other to be an effective team on both ends of the court but late in the third they moved away from that.
“We were getting a little bit antsy,” he said. “Defensively, we wanted to get a lot of steals and we were jumping and leaving our feet too much and Kirtland did an excellent job of bounce passing, faking and breaking our press.”
On the offensive end, they lost some of their composure.
“If we run our plays and if we keep our minds focused on what we need to get done we’ll get those high percentage shots,” he said. “The threes are there when we run stuff too. That’s one thing I’m trying to get to them to do, instead of taking shots with someone in our face.”