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Scorpions girls basketball team has sights set high again

FARMINGTON − For a team which came within one game of reaching the state championship last season, there is still a calling for Farmington High School's girls basketball team to do better.

Tom Adair, a longtime coach of multiple sports across San Juan County, has been charged with the task of getting the Lady Scorpions ready for another run at a Class 5A state title. Adair, who took over the girls basketball job earlier this year, is confident he has the right mixture of veteran players and newcomers to make that happen.

"The cupboard is pretty full here, but we're also very excited at the freshman and the future of the team," Adair said. "I think the girls here have a pretty good idea of what my philosophy is and these girls are very dedicated."

Adair, who amassed over 125 wins in eight seasons as the head coach of the Bloomfield High girls basketball team, including an appearance in the Class 5A state finals in 2018, replaced Larenson Henderson, who resigned from Farmington Hight to take over as boys basketball coach at Shiprock High School.

Adair, who's been a coach in San Juan County for more than three decades, has also coached football as well as track and field for area high schools. He welcomes the challenge of taking over a program that already has their aspirations set very high.

The Lady Scorpions reached the Class 5A semifinals last season, losing to eventual state champion Volcano Vista by a final score of 67-55. They finished the season with a record of 28-3, and have reached the postseason in each of the last four years.

"It's almost tougher to replicate what has gone on here in recent years, but I feel all these girls are up to the challenge," Adair said. "We had a really good turnout for summer camps and I think these girls know what's expected of them."

And while Kiiyani Anitielu, who led the team in almost every scoring category last season, has moved on after graduation, younger sisters like senior Kamalani, junior Kapiolani and freshman Kjani Anitielu are ready to step into the spotlight.

Kamalani Anitielu averaged nearly 13 points per game last season for the Scorpions, finishing sixth in District 2-5A in that category.

"They are all some really incredible talents and they're ready to contribute wherever we need them," Adair said. "We're really excited to see what they can do. Kamalani and Kapiolani were both at the top of their game last season and Kjani is already competing to be a starter which is a really good sign."

Adair is looking forward to the possibility of facing Volcano Vista at least once this season, in hopes of reversing the outcome from last season's postseason battle.

"We've got a game at their house on Jan. 11 as our last non-district game of the season, but we're also looking forward to possibly playing them before that in a tournament at Albuquerque," Adair said. "I'm excited about that because to be the best, you've got to beat the best."

The team has been busy in recent weeks working on basic shooting and ball handling skills for Adair, who stressed the importance of his players having experience in other sports during the year.

"I think there's always benefits to having these girls come out of other sports," Adair said. "The endurance of cross-country has been good for a number of players as well as the fast-twitch reaction time of high school volleyball. Having the experience of being on multiple team sports also increases their confidence levels."

District 2-5A will once again be a challenging one for the Lady Scorpions. La Cueva, coming off a 21-7 season, won the regular season district title but lost two out of three games to Farmington last season. Piedra Vista, also dealing with the loss of Lanae Billy who graduated as the school's all-time leading scorer last year, will be looking to keep up with the top teams in the district.

"They're all really good teams in the district and we're going to have to be at the top of our game from the start," Adair said. "They've got a really good program at Piedra Vista and they're going to be ready to go early. La Cueva is always loaded as are the rest of the teams in our district."

The Lady Scorpions will open the season at home Saturday, Nov. 26 against Gallup in the Scorpion Arena before traveling to Durango to face the Lady Demons on Tuesday, Nov. 29. For a complete look at Farmington's upcoming girls basketball season, check out their official page on