Moriarty High School’s Lady Pintos had something to prove when they stepped on the court Feb. 25 to take on the visiting Taos Lady Tigers in the opening round of the single-elimination District 2-4A tournament.

In front of a sparse crowd at a makeshift venue, Moriarty put together four solid quarters—including a scorching second quarter—to topple Taos 55-48.

“It’s so cool, it’s really exciting,” Moriarty freshman Aneesa Chavez said after the victory.

“They played really well together—I’m super proud of them,” added Moriarty head coach Erin Edwards. “There was no come-in-and-lose, there was a come-in-and-win, that was all we had.”

The matchup was moved to Edgewood Middle School’s gym because of a water line problem in Moriarty that shut off the water to the high school, according to principal Rob Adams.

Moriarty basketball

Payton Edwards sandwiched between a pair of Taos Lady Tigers Feb. 25. Photo by Ger Demarest.

The game was close early with both teams trading leads until Kailei Edwards hit the first of her four 3-point shots late in the first quarter to give the Lady Pintos a lead they didn’t relinquish.

Moriarty (10-14, 2-6) played lights-out offense in the second quarter, shooting 56% from the floor and outscoring Taos 22-10.

Kailei Edwards sank three layups and buried her second 3-pointer, Tristen Sauter drained a 3, Chavez connected on a trio of layups, and Payton Edwards nailed a long-range 2-point jumper with 10 seconds left in the period to lift Moriarty to a 31-18 lead at halftime.

“We made a goal before the game to score at least double digits in each quarter and the first quarter we only scored 9, so we didn’t get 10, and so we were like, we have to come back and at least make more than 20 and we made 22 that quarter,” Kailei Edwards said.

Moriarty continued to pour it on in the third quarter, building a 17-point advantage midway through the frame. Kailei Edwards knocked down her third and fourth 3-pointers, and Payton Edwards and Mia Encinias added 3s to put the Lady Pintos up 45-31 at the end of the period.

Moriarty basketball

Kailei Edwards led the Lady Pintos with 20 points against Taos Feb. 25. Photo by Ger Demarest.

“I think we moved the ball around quicker,” Payton Edwards said. “We ran our offense is pretty much what we did, it was a good game.”

Moriarty only made one field goal in the fourth quarter—a Hannah Beukelman put back with 2:12 remaining in the game—but the Pintos hit 8 of 10 free throws, including six by Chavez.

Kailei Edwards finished with a game-high 20 points, making 4 of 8 from 3-point range. Chavez scored 15, including hitting 9 of 10 from the foul line. Payton Edwards chipped in 9.

“Tristen and I came together and were like, we have to win because this could be our last game and I did not want this to be our last game, so we were very determined,” Kailei Edwards said, adding, “It feels great!”

With the win, the Lady Pintos advanced to the district semifinals Feb. 27 at Pojoaque Valley.

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.