Four days after beating Ruidoso 65-51 in the regular-season finale, Moriarty High’s boys basketball team fell to the visiting Warriors 54-52 in Tuesday’s second-round of the District 4-4A Tournament.

After trailing by 17 at halftime, Marvin Encinias’ go-ahead layup with :26 left in the game gave the Pintos a 52-51 lead, but the Warriors snatched the victory in the game’s final moments.

“We missed too many shots early on and overall too many layups. Those are the two things that hurt us the most,” Moriarty head coach Mike Trujillo said.

Tuesday’s loss started similarly to Friday’s game, when the Pintos staved off an early attack by the Warriors and took control in the second half to post a 65-51 victory.

Trujillo—who has been pushing the Pintos to play with poise for most of the season—said the team earned the win by using patience and execution to turn the tempo around after the early deficit.

“I think we did a great job tonight of moving the basketball,” Trujillo said. “Offensively, we were getting that extra pass, getting the ball where we needed to so we could get those great shots.”

Some of those great shots were 3-point baskets in the second half by Caleb Edwards. After missing his first five attempts from beyond the arc in the first half, Edwards caught fire in the third quarter. He knocked down four consecutive 3-balls and helped the Pintos build a 15-point lead.

“Even though I had that drought in the first half I knew I had to keep shooting,” Edwards said. “You can’t make any if you don’t shoot, and if I make one I’m gonna start heating up and that’s what did it.”

The Warriors (14-13, 3-6 District 4-4A) came out fast and furiously to open the contest. They led for most of the first quarter and were ahead by 5 points early in the second.

Moriarty (14-12, 4-4) mounted an 11-0 run to capture a 24-17 lead with 5 minutes left in the frame, but Ruidoso trimmed the score to 24-23 with just over a minute left before halftime.

The Pintos made four straight free throws and added a jump shot by Marvin Encinias just before the buzzer to take a 30-23 advantage into the locker room at the break. Moriarty then came out strong in the second half and never looked back.

Jake Flaming receiving a commemorative ball for being the leading scorer in Moriarty High School history. Photo by G. Demarest.

“We were ready to go when we came out of the halftime break and we wanted to end it so we were getting the open shots, and putting them down,” Moriarty’s junior post Matt Soto said.

Soto posted a game-high 23 points, with all his scoring bookending the contest: he scored Moriarty’s first 11 points in the first quarter and notched the team’s final 12 points in the waning minutes. He also grabbed 11 rebounds for a double-double—two separate stats in double figures—and he added six blocks.

“We wore them down, I think that was the key,” Trujillo said. “As a whole, our team is playing very well, and I’m real happy that we picked now to do things right—they’re playing hard, and they’re having fun playing.”

During halftime, Moriarty’s athletic director Joe Bailey honored former basketball standout and 2016 graduate Jake Flaming for being the leading scorer in school history with 1,470 career points. Flaming was presented with a commemorative basketball.