After a 49-44 defeat Feb. 22 at the hands of Portales at home in the district tournament, Moriarty High’s boys basketball head coach Mike Trujillo said he was hoping the Pintos would be seeded fourth in the upcoming Class 4A state tournament.
He got his wish.
The Pintos (18-8, 6-3) received the No. 4 spot at state and will host the opening round.
The Pintos had already edged Portales twice this season, and just as it was in the previous contests, the Feb. 22 loss was a barn burner.
With several first-half lead changes, the Pintos led 19-17 early in the second quarter but trailed by 1 point at halftime.
At the start of the third quarter, Moriarty’s Caleb Edwards took a long, back-court pass from Marvin Encinias and sank an uncontested layup to lift the Pintos to a 27-26 lead.
Edwards led the Pintos with 17 points.
But Moriarty sank just one more field goal during the rest of the stanza and fell behind by 6 points by the end of the frame.
“We didn’t shoot well in the third [quarter],” Trujillo said. “We went cold, things weren’t falling for us, and they went down and capitalized.”
The Pintos stayed within striking distance in the fourth quarter and pulled within 2 points on Sebastion Giron’s 3-point shot with two minutes remaining in the game. He chipped in 10 points.
Encinias sank a free throw with :16 left—making the score 46-44—but that was all the home team would score. Encinias added 9 points.
The fourth-seeded Pintos will host the No. 13 West Las Vegas Dons in the state tournament opener March 3 at 6 p.m.