Moriarty’s girls basketball team came within one shot of winning last weekend’s 44th annual Alice King Tournament.
Trailing by 2 points in the final seconds of the tournament finale, Emily Gonzales launched a desperation 3-point shot as the buzzer sounded but the ball sailed wide of the basket and the Lady Pintos lost 52-50 to the St. Pius X Sartans.
It was Moriarty’s first loss of the season—giving the home team second place in the tournament for the second consecutive year—but head coach Joe Bailey expressed his satisfaction with his team’s overall performance.
“I’m happy,” Bailey said. “We got challenged tonight, but at this stage of the year we just want to get better, we’ve got a great group of girls and there are more big games coming up.”
After winning the first two games of the tournament the Lady Pintos had trouble finding their footing in Saturday’s championship contest.
The undefeated Sartans—Moriarty’s former district rival—used a 6-0 run to take an early first-quarter lead and extended the margin to 8 points by halftime.
“I think we came in thinking that it was gonna be just like last year because we beat them all three times,” Moriarty’s Emerald Russell said.
St. Pius got a huge boost from its 6-foot-1 post Arianna Martinez, who led the Sartans with 21 points and was named the tournament’s MVP.
“We got a little intimidated by their size inside,” Bailey said.
St. Pius pushed its lead to 10 points midway through the third quarter.
But the Lady Pintos used a 6-0 run of their own to pull within 4 points late in the third and continued to rally in the fourth quarter.
Three times Moriarty got within 2 points, and just after Martinez fouled out of the game, Alyssa Adams hit a pair of free throws to tie the score at 48-48 with 1:20 remaining.
“We knew that their best player was out and [the coaches] just told us to keep attacking,” Adams said. She had a double-double with a game-high 27 points—including a perfect 15-for-15 from the foul line—and 12 rebounds.
Adams also fouled out of the game with :24 left and could only watch from the bench as her teammates tried to grab the win.
But in the game’s final moments the Sartans sank four consecutive free throws while Moriarty could only muster one layup by Alyssa Sauter.
“That’s a typical Moriarty-St.Pius basketball game,” Bailey said. “We had shots—Emily took a great shot—but we never quit, and that’s what I’m most proud of.”
Following Saturday’s championship contest, Adams and Gonzalez were awarded All-Tournament honors.
The Lady Pintos got to the championship by cruising past Pojoaque Valley 37-16 on Friday after beating Estancia 45-22 in Thursday’s opening-round game.
The opening-rounder was close early in the first quarter when Estancia’s leading scorer Savanna Chavez got hurt and Moriarty exploded with a 21-0 run and never looked back.
“One of their players was going up and her knee went into my chest,” Chavez said. “When Savanna got the wind knocked out of her we started subbing and we didn’t play well,” Estancia’s head coach Travis Watts said.
Estancia rebounded to beat Bernalillo 44-35 in Friday’s second round before falling to Cobre 50-18 in the consolation-bracket finale.
The Alice King Invitational Tournament, the oldest high school girls basketball tournament in the state, is named after former first lady Alice King, who passed away in 2008.
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.