A hot start and a spate of key late-game foul shots hoisted Moriarty High’s boys basketball team to a 71-65 victory over the visiting West Las Vegas Dons last Saturday in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament.

Moriarty’s Caleb Edwards lit up the boards with five first-half 3-pointers to lift the Pintos to an early double-digit lead.

“It felt good to be in the moment,”

Moriarty’s Caleb Edwards racing to the basket. Photo by G. Demarest.

Edwards said. “We were feeling it.” He scored a game-high 33 points.

But the determined Dons refused to go down easy as they trimmed the Pintos’ lead to 7 points at halftime.

“They [the Dons] were coming at us and hit some big threes to get back in it,” Moriarty head coach Mike Trujillo said. “We got a little sloppy, we kinda stood around instead of attacking and that hurt us.”

The Pintos also turned the ball over more than 20 times and the Dons took advantage to stay within striking distance. “We just weren’t protecting the basketball,” Trujillo said.

Late in the fourth quarter, after the Dons had pulled within 4 points, Trujillo called a time out and rallied his players.

“I told [the players] we needed to execute and finish it,” Trujillo said. “And that’s what they did.”

In the final 55 seconds of the game—with the Dons resorting to fouls to stop the clock—Moriarty’s Matthew Soto and Tyler Murphy combined for seven free throws to seal the victory. “I’m glad they went in because those were needed free throws,” Soto said, adding, “It was scary, but we did what we needed to do.”

He scored 15 points and Murphy added 11.

With the opening-round win, the Pintos advanced to today’s quarterfinals to take on Taos at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.