FARMINGTON — After struggling defensively in the first half, Farmington High shut down Del Norte in the final two quarters.
The Scorpions held the Knights to 4-of-20 shooting in the second half to earn a 60-49 victory at home on Friday night.
"Defense is something we're really working hard on, and we just keep getting better and better," FHS head coach Paul Corley said.
FHS (8-9) dug an early hole in the first quarter 19-14 after the Knights (2-14) hit 75 percent from the field (6-of-8).
"In that first half, we had some miscommunication and gave them some open 3s, but I knew they wouldn't shoot that well the whole game," Corley said. "I feel like our defense was more physical and just took them out of their game."
From there, the Scorps' defense took over, allowing Del Norte to hit just 7-of-30 for the remainder of the contest.
"We stopped going to our strength inside and stopped crashing the boards," said Knights' head coach Ryan Noce. "We got comfortable, I guess. We've been in many games, but we tend to squander a lot in the second half."
The FHS offense started to click in the second half as well.
Del Norte entered the second half with a 30-25 lead, but the Scorpions made 11-of-17 field goals in the final two quarters, including two big 3-pointers by Kyle Reynolds and Jared Tschetter in the third quarter to erase the deficit.
"I didn't think they could guard us when they went man-to-man," Corley said. "We have some good guards and took advantage. We spread it out and let our guards play smart basketball and make plays."
Alex Whiteley hit two free throws near the ended of the third quarter to give FHS a 40-38 lead heading into the final eight minutes. It was the first FHS lead since the Scorps had a 9-7 advantage in the middle of the first quarter.
The Scorps had a balanced offensive attack with five players scoring at least eight points.
"We were able to get to the line and score and that opened up other stuff," said Whiteley, who hit 8-of-8 at the free-throw line on his way to a team-high 12 points.
Reynolds and Max Piñon scored 11 apiece to join Whiteley in double figures.
"When we have multiple people in double digits, it's easier to win games," Whiteley said.
Christopher Wright scored a game-high 13 points for Del Norte, but hit just 2-of-8 from the field. Kevin Golden added 12 points for the Knights in the loss.
The Scorps have won seven of their last eight games after starting the year 1-8.
The lone loss during that stretch was to St. Pius X in the Gallup Invite final on Jan. 11
FHS will get a rematch with the Sartans (8-5) at home at 3 p.m. today.
"We're looking forward to Pius again," Corley said. "They're No. 4 in the state. I know we'll be up for it. We just have to make better decisions at the crucial times."