Moriarty High School’s boys basketball team lost its Feb. 24 District 5-5A tournament semifinal to the visiting St. Pius X Sartans, 58-33.

But the New Mexico Activities Association awarded Moriarty with a state berth, so the Pintos live to play another game.

Moriarty (12-14, 3-3) came out strong against the Sartans, winning the opening tip-off and taking an early lead off Matt Soto’s layup.

Zach Trujillo added a layup midway through the first quarter and the Pintos had a 4-point advantage. “Offensively we were good early in the game,” he said.

But St. Pius soon found its footing, and once Anthony Trujillo—who sank six 3-pointers—got hot, the Sartans took control.

St. Pius built a 9-point lead at halftime and extended it to 20 points midway through the third quarter. Zach Trujillo’s 3-point shot just before the end of the third only trimmed the deficit to 17.

“I think it was defense that killed us, we just gave them too many opportunities,” Trujillo said. “They came into the game thinking that they were gonna beat us and we just kinda rolled over and let it happen.”

Moriarty’s offense struggled in the second half, managing just 6 points in the third quarter and 7 in the fourth.

Trujillo’s layup with 3:30 left in the game was the Pintos’ only field goal in the final stanza. “We all knew what was resting on this game,” Trujillo said. “This was our last home game and we all put a lot of pressure on ourselves.”

Moriarty head coach Mike Trujillo noted a loss of focus as the key to the defeat.

“Once we lost our focus and [the Sartans] gained some momentum, they took over,” coach Trujillo said.

The Pintos got the 15th seed in the Class 5A state tournament and travel to Grants to face the No. 2 Pirates in the opening round Saturday at 5 p.m.