In the waning minutes of Moriarty High’s Jan. 31 district matchup with the visiting Pojoaque Valley Elks, the Pintos needed a lift.
After falling behind early, battling back in the second quarter and forging ahead by as much as 9 points in the third quarter, the Pintos were cradling a slim 48-46 lead with five minutes remaining in the game.
Moriarty (7-12, 1-3) slammed the door by outscoring Pojoaque Valley 13-5 down the stretch to win 61-51, snapping a four-game losing streak and earning their first district victory of the season.
“This was a big win,” Moriarty head coach Marcus Ortiz said after the game. “It was a great team effort.”
Reyes Chavez scored a game-high 17 points, including three 3-pointers, and Tyler Ortiz tallied 16 points with nine rebounds.
“It was a fun game,” Tyler Ortiz said. “Super fun.”
Pojoaque Valley (6-15, 0-3) used an early 10-4 spurt on the way to a 16-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Pintos and Pojoaque swapped leads six times in the second quarter before heading into halftime with the score knotted at 26-26.
At the start of the third quarter, Julian Encinias saved a loose ball from going out of bounds under the basket and hucked it into the hands of Tyler Ortiz who put up a layup to push the Pintos ahead 28-26.
Moriarty never trailed again but the Elks didn’t go quietly.
Encinias followed with a layup and Chavez sank the second of his three 3-pointers to lift Moriarty to a 33-28 lead.
Encinias hit another layup and Cayden Dunn added a putback off an offensive rebound to widen the margin to 37-28.
But Pojoaque pulled within 4 points by the end of the third.
Chavez opened the fourth quarter with another 3 and Michael Pisz added a layup to put the Pintos up 48-41.
“Ty had the ball and I said, ‘Tyler swing me the ball,’ and he passed it and I shot it, and I was like, ‘Oh, that one’s in,’ I felt that one,” Chavez said about his third 3 of the game.
Pojoaque responded with a 5-0 spurt to cut the margin to 2 points with just over five minutes left in the game.
With 4:58 to go, Moriarty’s Bobby Schmutz hit a layup that started a surge that would put the game away.
Pisz and Tyler Ortiz posted a pair of free throws with under three minutes remaining, and Chavez added a layup at the 2:08 mark.
With 1:25 left, Tyler Ortiz hit a layup and followed it with another with :59 left.
With :27.8 to go, Pisz nailed two more free throws to cap a 12-0 run and give the Pintos a 60-46 lead—their biggest of the game.
Pisz added another free throw in the final seconds to round out the Pintos’ scoring.
“It was just fun cuz we were doing everything right towards the end of the game, we were just putting it on them,” Tyler Ortiz said.
Coach Ortiz added, “We hit our shots tonight, our rebounding was great, I felt like we owned the boards, we played great basketball.”
Moriarty is at Las Vegas-Robertson Feb. 6.
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.