IRONTON – Relying upon an even younger starting lineup than usual, the Farmington girls basketball team could not have anticipated a better opening salvo.
The Knights started 7-of-10 from the field while delivering four minutes of shutout defense, and earned a 65-56 road victory over Arcadia Valley on Monday night.
Skylar Sweeney drilled five 3-pointers, and Farmington (10-2) maintained a comfortable cushion for the duration of the game after initially surging ahead 17-0.
Jade Roth provided 15 points, including a 16-foot jumper that made the halftime lead 33-20, and Anna McKinney contributed seven assists toward the winning effort.
The all-sophomore starting five was missing Angelia Davis, who twisted an ankle during practice Sunday, and freshman Shelby Bowling was tapped to replace her at forward.
Effective ball movement helped the Knights click from the outset. Sweeney connected twice from long range with another triple from Roth in between.
Sweeney dished a 2-on-1 assist to McKinney after emerging with a loose ball, and Grace Duncan cleaned up a missed shot for two of her 10 points.
Gracee Smith helped Arcadia Valley (7-7) recover from that rough stretch with a 3-pointer and layup off a cross-over drive before the first quarter concluded.
The all-state guard compiled 28 points, eight rebounds and four steals overall, but an early decision by Farmington to feature a zone defensive look proved effective.
Sweeney opened the second quarter with her third 3-pointer, and Trista Hampton found Bowling inside for a basket after Smith ripped control of a rebound away for an uncontested layup.
Alyssa Glanzer was the second AV player to dent the scoreboard when Jaidyn Phelps spotted her ahead on a fast break, but Farmington simply had more offensive weapons.
Duncan squeezed through a tight space along the baseline to score out of halftime, and McKinney took a clean subsequent steal to the basket for another layup.
Bowling chipped in six points and dived on the floor to control a loose ball before 3-pointers by Sweeney and senior Emma Williams ballooned the difference to 49-26.
Hailey Pauley capped the third quarter with a perimeter strike for AV, but a third-chance putback by Hannah Helvey and explosive drive by Smith were trumped by threes from Sweeney and Williams.
The Lady Tigers trailed 57-34 with 6 ½ minutes remaining, and were not called for a foul during the first 12 minutes over the second half.
Farmington had already reached the single bonus by that juncture, and Arcadia Valley cashed in 9-of-14 free throws down the stretch to eventually draw within single digits.
Smith sank eight consecutive tosses after missing a pair during the second quarter, and rattled in a 3-pointer to make it 59-45, part of 13 points in the final stanza.
The Knights stopped a modest slump by breaking pressure, resulting in insurance layups from both Roth and Bowling. Phelps capped the contest for AV with a 3-pointer from the right wing.
Farmington hopes to have Davis available for a crucial conference opener at home on Thursday against Ste. Genevieve.
Pauley notched nine points and Helvey grabbed six rebounds for the Lady Tigers, who continue a tough three-game stretch at MAAA Small-School rival West County on Thursday.
Smith, already signed for next year with Mineral Area, needs 125 points to become the fourth MAAA girls player with 2,000 in a varsity career.