The Bernalillo Spartans earned their shot at New Mexico prep basketball’s Goliath.
Top-seeded Bernalillo (29-1) used an early 18-0 run to put away No. 4 Moriarty (20-9) in a boys Class 4A semifinal Friday morning at Dreamstyle Arena. The Spartans were never seriously threatened in the second half of a 61-39 victory.
Up next for coach Terry Darnell’s team is five-time defending champion Hope Christian in today’s title game. Tip-off is scheduled for noon at the Pit.
The Huskies have won 12 state titles since 2002, while the Spartans’ last crown was a Class 3A championship won in 2005. Darnell knows tradition will not be on his side today.
“Hope is always tough,” Darnell said, “but I think we’re up for the challenge. I’ve said all year that I think this team is special, but these guys have to finish it off if they want to be one of the elite teams. We have to finish it.”
No. 1 BERNALILLO 61, No. 4 MORIARTY 39: The Spartans showed what they’re capable of Friday, controlling the action on both ends of the court for most of the game. Posts Solomon Fragua, at 6-foot-7, and 6-3 Mariano Lobato put up double-doubles and effectively kept the Pintos out of the paint. Fragua had 10 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks, while Lobato racked up 11 points, 11 boards and one block.
“I feel like Sol and I work really good together,” Lobato said. “When we get the high-low game going and box out on defense, we can make it tough for people.”
Moriarty had few answers for what Darnell called his team’s “two-headed monster” inside. The Pintos shot just 21 percent from the field and scored just 12 points in the paint.
Things started well enough for Moriarty, which hit its first two 3-pointers and grabbed a 10-7 lead. But the Pintos missed their next 18 attempts from long range as the Spartans took command of the game.
Lobato scored nine of his points and Fragua had three blocks during an 18-0 tear that gave Bernalillo a 25-10 lead early in the second quarter. The margin was 36-20 at halftime.
“I thought we did a good job establishing our inside game right away,” Fragua said.
The third quarter was not one to remember as neither team shot well and things got chippy. The teams combined for 12 points and 14 fouls —players from both teams also picked up technical fouls early in the fourth quarter —and Moriarty’s Tyler Murphy left the game with a leg injury.
But Bernalillo got its rhythm back late. Reyes Herrera scored 13 points to pace the Spartans. Matthew Soto had 10 points to lead Moriarty.
MORIARTY (20-9): Marvin Encinias 2, Tyler Brunson 6, Sebastian Giron 6, Caleb Edwards 9, Santiago Montoya 0, Michael Pisz 0, Caleb Flaming 0, Mattew Soto 10, Tyler Murphy 2, Reyes Chavez 1. Totals: 11-53 FG, 14-29 FT 39.
BERNALILLO (29-1): Luis Villegas 1, Reyes Herrera 13, Gabriel Prairie 5, Fernando Villegas 4, Aron Neely 7, Davin Deuel 0, Chris Garcia 8, Ayden Madrid 0, Corvin Fragua 2, Solomon Fragua 10, Mariano Lobato 11. Totals: 18-50 FG, 21-33 FT 61.
Moriarty 10 10 5 14 —39
Bernalillo 20 16 7 18 —61
3-Point FGs: M 3-21 (Brunson 0-2, Giron 0-2, Edwards 1-8, Soto 1-5, Murphy 1-3, Chavez 0-1), B 4-16 (L Villegas 0-2, Herrera 1-9, Prairie 1-1, F Villegas 1-1, Neely 0-2, Garcia 1-1). Rebounds: M 44 (Soto 9), B 57 (S Fragua, Lobato 11). Assists: M 4 (Edwards 2), B 10 (Herrera 4). Team fouls: M 22, B 23. Fouled out: M Encinias. Technical fouls: M Giron, B Lobato.
— Ken Sickenger
No. 3 HOPE CHRISTIAN 63, No. 2 SILVER 50: Johnnie Nitafan scored 19 points and Preston Ulibarri had 15 points, including seven in the pivotal third quarter, to lead the Huskies to the state championship game for the 10th straight season.
And the Hope (22-8) squad that has won eight of the last nine titles showed up to start the third quarter, when the Huskies reeled off an 11-0 run to break a 22-all halftime deadlock.
The Colts (24-5) got 16 points from Tristin Moore.
— Glen Rosales