Home Sports Local Sports NMMI boys oust Navajo Prep, advance to 3A quarterfinals

NMMI boys oust Navajo Prep, advance to 3A quarterfinals

New Mexico Military Institute’s Ricardo Mata (1) fights his way toward the basket against Navajo Prep’s Cody Manning during Saturday’s 3A boys basketball playoff opener at the Eagles Nest in Farmington. (Matt Hollinshead Photo/Farmington Daily Times)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

By Matt Hollinshead
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – New Mexico Military Institute’s taking gradual steps toward statewide relevance.

After ending a six-year playoff drought in 2019, the Colts took that latest step and ousted Navajo Prep, 54-40, in Saturday’s 3A playoff opener at the Eagles Nest in Farmington.

“I think this gives our team all the confidence in the world now,” NMMI coach Connor Williamson said. “It feels absolutely great. Our guys did a really good job of keeping (penetrating shooters) in front tonight. They didn’t hit enough shots. We did a good enough job closing it out to make it tough.”

Prep inserted Marley Deschiney and Javy Atcitty into the starting lineup, in order to combat NMMI’s bigs in the paint. The duo was held scoreless in the first half, but NMMI didn’t fully rely on attacking the rim head-on.

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The Colts hit some key shots slashing in from the outside corners of the wing, and NMMI still had multiple looks on putbacks.

Meanwhile, Prep missed plenty of easy looks and committed multiple turnovers attacking the driving lanes, from offensive foul calls to throwing the ball away.

Even on consecutive defensive stops, the Eagles couldn’t deliver attacking in transition. Each time that happened, the frustration kept building.

“We’d get three stops, come down and get nothing out of those three possessions,” Navajo Prep coach Matt Melvin said. “It’s the last thing you want. You want to play one of your sharpest, best games toward the end of the season. And if you’re going to lose, you want to lose going out throwing your best punches, not really feeling like you let one get away.”

Prep (20-8) went one-and-done in the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

NMMI’s Ricardo Mata, Hector Soto and Daniel Xibille all scored in double figures, combining for 42 points. Navajo Prep’s Lance Morris and Isaiah Morris both scored eight points.

NMMI (15-8) will face Hot Springs in the 3A quarterfinals at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

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