More than anything, Moriarty High School’s girls basketball team’s run during the Class 4A state tournament showed that the Lady Pintos are lionhearted.

In an all-out effort, the determined third-seeded Lady Pintos battled, scratched, clawed—and at times, hobbled—until the very end of a memorable ride.

After getting past Santa Fe Indian School and Pojoaque Valley to advance to the state championship—the team’s first trip to the title contest since 2003—the plucky Lady Pintos ultimately fell 50-39 to No. 1 Portales in the March 9 matchup at Dreamstyle Arena, AKA The Pit.

The day before the championship, No. 3 Moriarty (27-5, 5-3) overcame a sluggish start to beat No. 7 Pojoaque Valley 47-38 in the semifinals.

The Lady Pintos had trouble executing early—they trailed Pojoaque the entire first quarter—before finally finding their footing to pull within 1 point at halftime.

“It’s the state finals, it’s not easy, we dug ourselves a hole, but we just kept plugging away,” Moriarty head coach Joe Bailey said.

The Lady Pintos started the third quarter with a 9-0 burst to pull ahead 28-20 and never trailed again.

“I think it actually started in the first half when we came back from that deficit and it just carried over,” said Moriarty’s Lydia Schmutz, who played the entire game on a sore ankle.

Bailey said rebounds and solid defense played a key role. “Once we started rebounding better, that got us turned around,” Bailey said. “And we made our free throws.”

Moriarty senior Alyssa Adams—who scored a game-high 29 points—hit 18 of the team’s 28 free throws.

But the most impressive aspect of Adams’ final stint with the Lady Pintos was her tenacity.

Pojoaque did everything it could to stop Adams—double-teaming her the entire game—and she ended up on the floor a few times, including a hard twist-and-fall with 2:55 remaining.

Adams hobbled off the court, got her ankle taped by the trainer, walked along the bench to show Bailey she could go, and returned to the game. “It hurt, but I just knew that I had to go back in,” the Fort Lewis-bound Adams said.

Pojoaque tried to stay within striking distance but resorted to clock-stopping fouls in the game’s final minutes.

Holding a 3-point lead, Moriarty’s Stephanie Ordoñez drew a foul and sank a pair of free throws with the crowd roaring. “I didn’t really feel a lot of pressure, it was kind of exciting,” Ordoñez said. She chipped in 8 points.