Moriarty High School’s boys basketball team showed it has a lot of grit last Friday against the visiting Portales Rams.

But despite a valiant effort the Pintos fell 70-62.

“I look at it as a success when we can stick together and finish like that and not get beat by 40 [points] because they’re a good team,” Moriarty head coach Mike Trujillo said of the district-leading Rams.

Trailing 59-45 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Pintos outscored the Rams 17-11 in the final frame.

“We weren’t going to stand down to them,” Moriarty junior Matt Soto said. Soto, the team’s 6-foot-4 center, led the Pintos with 17 points and seven rebounds.

Trujillo said he was pleased with the Pintos’ plucky performance—particularly the fourth-quarter rally—and he believes it will give the players a boost in morale as they continue district play.

“I’m real proud of our kids,” the coach said. “The boys were able to say, ‘We’re not going to lay down and let somebody just walk all over us, we’re going to keep fighting,’ and I think that’s big.”

Moriarty (8-11, 0-2) stayed with the Rams (15-2, 1-0) for much of the first quarter before falling behind by 9 points at the end of the stanza. Portales extended its lead to 15 points late in the second quarter.

With just under 30 seconds left in the first half, Julius Giron drained his second 3-pointer of the game to bring the Pintos within 10 points at the break. Giron chipped in 13 points for the Pintos.

Portales built its lead back to 14 points midway through the third quarter and maintained that margin before Moriarty’s final push.

“We know we can play with anybody when we play as a team and that’s what we did tonight, we played as a team,” Soto said.

The Pintos played District 4-4A rival New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell Tuesday after The Independent went to print.