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Scorpions basketball teams prepared to make a statement this season


FARMINGTON — While the theory of practice makes perfect doesn't always come to fruition, there will certainly be a lot more opportunity to test that rationale for the Farmington High School basketball teams.

Preparing for the upcoming season, which gets underway this week for both the boys and girls teams, has a far different feel to it compared to last season. 

How that relates to the product on the court during games still remains to be seen.

Here's a glance at what to expect for the Farmington High basketball teams.

Farmington High School boys basketball

Head coach Larry Chitty is in the unenviable task of having to wait for a number of his key players to get into basketball shape when the season opens Friday night.

With as many as four of his returning starters — Ethan Thomas, Julian Gomez, Patrick Shay and Trel Greigo — having just finished their football season less than a week ago, Chitty is aware there's a difference between being a basketball player and football player.

"It's tougher than you'd think to make that adjustment," Chitty said. "They just use such different muscles and they run differently. It's just a different physicality."

While Chitty and the majority of the boys basketball team will be on the court Friday night to open the season, the real goal will be to get back to championship form.

The Scorpions haven't finished above .500 since the 2016-17 season, when they advanced to the quarterfinals of the state basketball tournament, losing to Los Lunas 63-51.

"We've struggled the past few years, but we feel like we have the talent where we can make a move," Chitty said. "Our goal is to get back to the state tournament."

To that end, the Scorpions will bring back a number of key starters this season, including senior Cayden Yazzie and sophomore Cody Vassar-Steen.

"We've got two really good guards who can do a lot of different things," Chitty said of both Yazzie and Vassar-Steen. "They're both the real deal."

Last season, played under the most unusual of conditions with little to no fans at games and an abbreviated schedule, ended with the Scorpions finishing 5-6 overall and 3-6 in District 2-5A competition.

"One of the things that made it really tough was we just didn't have many practices," Chitty said. "It was such a short season, trying to cram in as many games as we could with such a young team."

The expectations for some normalcy around practice time and a full season should go a long way.

"Getting some of these young guys some experience over the summer and into practice now has been huge," Chitty said. "To let these guys go and play and have some significant minutes is going to go a long way."  

The Scorpions open the season Friday at 7 p.m. on the road at Los Lunas. For more information on the boys basketball team, including schedules and updates, check out their official MaxPreps webpage.

Farmington High School girls basketball

Head coach Larenson Henderson still carries a bit of a grudge that his Scorpions girls basketball team wasn't included in the state Class 5A basketball tournament last season.

The Farmington girls basketball team wrapped up an unusual season last spring with an overall record of 8-3, including an impressive 6-3 mark in District 2-5A competition. Unfortunately for the Scorpions, that district mark found them finishing fourth in the standings. The three teams ahead of them — Eldorado, La Cueva and Sandia — all advanced to the eight-team tournament, leaving Farmington on the outside looking in.

And while none of those teams managed to make it to the state championship game last season, Henderson still wishes his team had been afforded another look.

"I thought things went great for us last season, but I think we were shortchanged by not getting into the state tournament," Henderson said. "As long as we all finished healthy, that was a big factor for me."

Henderson and his Scorpions team come back ready to make amends when their season opens this weekend.

"I think we're going to be right there with each other again this time around," Henderson said. "It's going to be very interesting. I'm excited to see what we're going to do."

Senior Audrey Henderson is coming off a strong season for the Scorpions, averaging more than six points per game and will be called upon for a similar effort this season.

"She's been playing well and shooting the ball well, but her defense is really what carries us," Larenson Henderson said. "She's excited to play in her senior year."

Senior point guard Kiiyani Anitielu led the team last season, averaging a bit more than 21 points per game. She is expected to continue to bring the team forward entering this season.

"She's going to have to fill that leadership role," Henderson said of Anitielu. "She has a lot of good caliber weapons on her and if she can get her teammates involved, I'm excited to see how she'll utilize her abilities and those around her."

As for the competition within the district, once again Farmington will be dealing with the likes of La Cueva and Sandia, as well as crosstown rival Piedra Vista, who the Scorpions beat handily twice last season.

"I think we can creep into the top half of the district standings this season," Henderson said. "If we're on fire, I think we can knock off anyone in there."

Farmington's girls basketball season will open on the road at Gallup on Saturday night.

For more information, including schedules, scores and more on the Farmington girls basketball team, check out their official MaxPreps webpage.

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.