After cruising past Estancia and staving off Jemez Valley in a nail-biter, Moriarty ran out of steam against the undefeated Portales Lady Rams in the 43rd annual Alice King Basketball Tournament.

The Lady Rams won last Saturday’s tournament finale 52-23, handing Moriarty its worst defeat this season. But the Lady Pintos still captured a second-place trophy, their best Alice King finish in seven years.

“This is the first time we’ve been to the finals since 2008,” said Moriarty head coach Joe Bailey. “We didn’t get it done [against Portales] but we’re not going to stand here and feel sorry for ourselves—we’re 6-2, it’s been a long time since we’ve been 6-2.”

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Moriarty’s Emerald Russell trying to fend off a pair of Jemez Valley defenders during last Friday’s game. Photo by G. Demarest.

The Lady Rams, a perennial 4A powerhouse, opened the tournament’s finale with a 6-0 run and never let up.

Despite trailing the entire game, Alyssa Adams sank a pair of free throws to pull Moriarty within 4 points midway through the second period.

“We played a good first half, I was happy at halftime,” Bailey said. But Moriarty’s offense went cold in the second half and Portales took advantage with a 22-point splurge.

Averee Ortiz’ jumper with 3:46 remaining in the game ended Moriarty’s 14-minute scoring drought going back to the end of the second period.

“I really wanted to score because we hadn’t scored in so long,” Ortiz said with a scratchy voice.

Ortiz and teammate Olivia Riblett helped the school’s Honors Civics class win the state “We the People” competition in Santa Fe earlier in the day. “It was a long day,” Ortiz said.

None of the Pintos, including Adams who led with 14 points, hit any 3-point shots against Portales. Moriarty went 0-for-13 from behind the arc.

“They’re a great defensive team,” Adams noted. “They played me tight, tighter than I’ve ever been played.”

Estancia's Savannah Chavez and Uriah Astorga double-teaming Moriarty's Alyssa Adams during last Thursday's opening round of the Alice King Tournament. Photo by G. Demarest.

Estancia’s Savannah Chavez and Uriah Astorga double-teaming Moriarty’s Alyssa Adams during last Thursday’s opening round of the Alice King Tournament. Photo by G. Demarest.

Saturday’s defeat followed Moriarty’s 70-68 barn burner over the Jemez Valley Lady Warriors—the most points the Lady Pintos have scored in several years.

The Pintos and the Warriors traded leads 20 times before Emerald Russell sank a lay up to put Moriarty ahead for good with 2:32 remaining. “I just sprinted down, got open and put it up,” Russell said. “It was pretty intense.”

Ortiz’ free throw with 16.3 seconds left made the score 70-68 but the scrappy Lady Warriors were within striking distance in the game’s final seconds.

Bailey called time out with 3.4 seconds to go. “I wanted to put our best defense in there because they were shooting the lights out,” he said.

Jemez inbounded the ball and put up a jumper but it clanged off the back of the iron.

Adams secured the rebound as time ran out and Moriarty escaped with the heart-thumping win. “I think we were all kinda nervous because we haven’t had a game like that,” said Adams who scored 28 points.

In Thursday’s opener the Lady Pintos used an early 12-0 run on their way to a 53-15 win over Estancia.

Adams led Moriarty with 17 points while Leanne Calhoon led the Lady Bears with 5.

After their loss to Moriarty’s varsity, the Lady Bears rebounded with a 34-24 win over Moriarty’s JV. Calhoon scored a game-high 14 while Moriarty’s Abigail Hix scored 10.

The Lady Bears were overmatched 61-18 in Saturday’s game against 5A Miyamura. Marisa Luna led Estancia with 8 points.

“Our defense kinda fell apart but I feel like no matter what, you shouldn’t give up,” Luna said.

Estancia head coach Travis Watts said he feels his young team will get better but said they have “some stuff to work on.”

The annual December invitational—named in honor of New Mexico’s longest-serving First Lady, Alice King—is the oldest girls’ high school basketball tournament in the state.

Bailey, who is also Moriarty’s athletic director, noted that the school’s JV team wouldn’t have participated in the tournament had it not been for Magdalena’s cancellation, which left him no choice but to add the underclass squad and revise the bracket.

Though the change made it appear as though Moriarty’s varsity got a cakewalk to the finals, Bailey said it was “better to do that than have the larger schools complaining about playing our JV.”

Despite dropping all three games to the larger schools, JV coach Janna Baguskis said she was very pleased with her squad’s performance in the tournament.

Following Saturday night’s finale, Adams and Russell were awarded with All-Tournament honors; Adams finished with a total of 59 points during the three games.

The Lady Pintos play at Capital in Santa Fe tonight and Belen on Thursday.

Ger Demarest
Ger Demarest

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.