Piedra Vista basketball looking for turnarounds in upcoming season
FARMINGTON — There wasn't a lot to celebrate last spring at the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse when it came time to get the basketball season going for Piedra Vista High School.
A shortened schedule of games, played primarily in empty arenas and a boys and girls team that struggled from the opening tip made for a difficult season.
Here's a look at the Piedra Vista High School basketball teams which open play before the end of the month.
The basketball season, which normally consists of anywhere between 25-35 games, never really got going for the Panthers boys team once high school sports were allowed to resume during the pandemic.
"We need to have that long season to find out who we are and develop, but we didn't have that this past spring obviously," said Panthers boys basketball head coach Brady Rivers. "We ended up only playing 11 games and we had to shut down in the middle of the season. For us, that just doesn't work."
The boys basketball team lost all 11 games last season and are in the midst of a 2-season winless streak against District 2-5A opposition, but Rivers believes better results are coming.
"We've been working hard on getting better and executing, and I think with more games and more time working together, we can do better," Rivers said.
Returning to the Panthers this season will be seniors John Dekay, as well as Nathan Heidke, Benjamin Hoff and Randal Begaye, who all figure to add some leadership to the team.
"These are kids who did a lot for us last season, the little things that don't always show up in the score book," Rivers said of his returning starters. "We'll be leaning a whole lot on them as this season gets started and we're still filling out our team."
The Panthers boys team opens their season at home on Saturday, Nov. 27 against Los Lunas before a road trip to Shiprock. For more information on the Panthers season, including schedules and rosters, check out their official webpage.
At one point during the shortened season last spring, the Piedra Vista girls team had a winning record.
Then came a six-game losing streak to close out the campaign, including a pair of blowout losses to district rivals La Cueva and Farmington, in addition to a midseason injury to one of their star players that brought the season to a tumultuous end.
"We're used to playing and winning a lot more games, then we get stuck with the short schedule and having to play and practice differently because of health protocols," said girls basketball coach Joe Reed. "Then we get hit with the injury bug last year which only made it tougher."
The Panthers lost starter Lanae Billy five games into the season last spring to an ankle injury which forced her to miss the rest of the campaign. The team's leading scorer in both her freshman and sophomore seasons, Billy was well on her way to another strong season before the injury.
"That was a big loss for us," Reed said. "She only played a few games for us but still wound up being named second-team All State, so people really recognize her as a player and a leader."
Earlier this week, Billy signed her letter of intent to attend Fort Lewis College next year where she plans to play basketball for their women's team.
Billy, who averaged 16 points a game during her first two seasons at Piedra Vista, will be back this season for the Panthers, who open on the road Tuesday, Nov. 30 at Kirtland Central before facing tournament action in Gallup at the start of December.
"She became a very unselfish basketball player and learning to rely on her teammates a bit more," Reed said. "That's hopefully going to go a long way this season."
Joining Billy among the team's returning starters will be seniors Adreanna Eaton and sophomore Brooklynn Harper.
"They both played some big minutes for us last season and they'll hopefully have some huge moments for us again this time around," said Reed.
For more information on the Panthers girls basketball team, including schedules and rosters, check out their official webpage.
Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.