Moriarty High School’s boys basketball team trailed the visiting Los Alamos Hilltoppers for much of their Feb. 8 matchup before the Pintos tried to rally near the end of the game.

With under two minutes to play, a pair of Tyler Ortiz free throws capped a 7-0 Moriarty run to cut Los Alamos’ lead to 2 points.

But the Pintos (7-14, 1-4) missed a late opportunity, and the Hilltoppers (5-17, 2-3) got possession of the ball, tossed it around like a game of keep-away to eat up the final seconds and went home with the 41-37 victory.

“They were trying to stall and we just couldn’t stop ‘em from stalling, that’s what ruined us,” Ortiz said.

Reyes Chavez—Moriarty’s 6-foot-3 senior who scored 17 points in the Pintos’ Jan. 31 win over Pojoaque Valley—missed the game with an injury to his fingers.

Without Chavez in the lineup the Pintos started out a little flat.

Moriarty’s Bobby Schmutz launching a shot against Los Alamos Feb. 8. Photo by Ger Demarest.

Aside from Moriarty’s early 6-4 lead in the first quarter, the Pintos made only six shots on 20 first-half attempts and trailed Los Alamos for most of the first two periods.

“We missed a lot of easy layups tonight,” Moriarty head coach Marcus Ortiz said.

In the final minutes of the second quarter, Jude Ipiotis came in off the bench and buried a pair of 3-pointers to trim the gap, but the Pintos trailed 22-17 at halftime.

“Coach said just shoot, and I was like, all right, so I let it fly—it got a little bounce and it went in,” Ipiotis said. “The second one, I had the confidence from the first one, and I just put it in.”

In the third quarter, the Hilltoppers hit two 3s and scored in transition off Moriarty turnovers to extend their lead to 33-26.

Trailing 37-27 in the fourth, Bobby Schmutz’ 3 ignited the Pintos’ attempted comeback.

After Los Alamos pushed ahead 39-30, Tyler Ortiz hit a short-range jumper, and a minute later, Julian Encinias drove the lane for a layup and was fouled while making the shot. He converted the subsequent plus-one free throw to cut Los Alamos’ lead to 39-35 with 2:25 remaining.

Tyler Ortiz followed with a pair of free throws to make it 39-37 with 1:41 left.

With under a minute to go, Schmutz put up a 3 that didn’t go, and Cayden Dunn grabbed the rebound in the paint but his attempted putback didn’t fall either.

Los Alamos got the rebound and passed the ball around to run out the clock until Tyler Ortiz fouled one of the Hilltoppers with just over :10 left.

Los Alamos missed the front end of the one-and-one free throw but got the rebound and hit a layup to seal the victory.

“It was a two-point game, Bobby had a great look, I mean, that was a great shot he took,” coach Ortiz said. “But those little shots we missed early in the game came back to haunt us at the end of the game.”

Tyler Ortiz led the Pintos with 12 points, Encinias finished with 8, and Ipiotis had 6.

“Not having Reyes is big, so we’re dealing with a lot of adversity,” coach Ortiz added. “But the perseverance these guys played with is outrageous, I mean, they played their butts off.”

Ger Demarest
Ger Demarest

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.