After the final buzzer sounded on Moriarty’s April 30 season-ending home loss to the Taos Tigers, with the 29-point margin still shining on the scoreboard, the Pintos huddled at mid-court for their customary postgame cheer, then retreated to the locker room—at least one of them for the last time.
One by one, each spectator stepped down from the bleachers, said their goodbyes and trickled out, leaving the gym empty and quiet.
The Pintos’ unprecedented, Covid-delayed spring basketball season that started on April 6 with a victory over East Mountain, came to an end less than a month later with a 61-32 loss to Taos—the team’s 11th consecutive defeat.
After everyone had left the building, Moriarty head coach Marcus Ortiz emerged from his office with an upbeat outlook on the just-concluded season.
“It’s been a bumpy road, I mean, it hurts that the season is ending because I think we were starting to gel,” Ortiz said. “But it could’ve been worse, you know, we could’ve been home, not playing at all, you know what I mean?”
The first quarter of the Taos game was Moriarty’s best quarter of the contest: Jeremy Padilla started with a jump shot for a brief 2-0 advantage. The Pintos sank three of their first four attempts and shot 50 percent from the floor in the opening period.
Taos used a quick 5-0 run to take the lead for good, but midway through the opening frame, Jason Garcia nailed a jumper and the Pintos only trailed 9-7.
Moments later, Herman Archibeque was fouled making a layup and added the plus-one free throw to keep the Pintos within striking distance at 15-12.
“At the beginning of the game we were controlling the tempo and running our offense,” Ortiz said.
Late in the second quarter, Garcia sank another layup to trim Taos’ lead to 24-21. He led the Pintos with 11 points.
But the Tigers closed the first half with an 8-0 run and stifled the Pintos the rest of the game.
“That’s something that happened all year, and it’s pretty much been the story of this year,” Ortiz said. “We’d have spurts of great basketball and then all of a sudden our missed shots turned into their layups, or our turnovers turned into their points and they’d go on runs and we’d have to fight back.”
Moriarty only mustered single-digit totals in the third and fourth quarters.
With a comfortable 42-26 lead late in the third, the Tigers slammed the door with a 15-0 run that started with 1:20 left in the frame and carried over into the fourth quarter.
Padilla and Archibeque each chipped in six points for Moriarty.
Ortiz acknowledged his lone senior, Caleb Griego, for being a big asset to the team and showing a great attitude all season.
“We’re going to miss him,” Ortiz said of Griego.
Ortis added that the opportunity to play outweighs the lack of Ws on the team’s win-loss record.
“It wasn’t a winning season and all that, but the fact that we got to play is tremendous to this program,” he said. “I think we’ve got a strong group coming back and we can build off this so-called season and get after it next year.”