Piedra Vista surprised everyone in the state in the second quarter of Saturday's first-round state tournament game, but the top-ranked Roswell Coyotes were too much for the Panthers to handle in the second half.
After trailing No. 1 Roswell 17-6 early and 19-10 after one quarter, the No. 16 Panthers came storming back to eventually take a 22-21 lead on an Isaiah Valdez 3-point basket before eventually taking a 26-23 lead on two Troy Dixon free-throw makers.
But that was the biggest lead Piedra Vista would hold, as Roswell claimed a 32-29 lead going into halftime.
Roswell outscored Piedra Vista 21-6 in the third quarter to blow the game open, eventually defeating the Panthers 74-55 in the Round of 16 in the 4A boys' basketball state tournament.
"We came out and played better defense than the last time we played Roswell," said PV head coach Adam Huff, who referenced PV's 85-45 loss to Roswell on Dec. 29. "Most of Roswell's points came off turnovers."
The Panthers (15-15) had 19 turnovers in the first half and 30 overall in the game.
"We had 19 turnovers in the first half and were still only down three. If we could have played within ourselves more, we should've had the lead," Huff said.
Early turnovers in the third quarter were what undid the Panthers as Roswell (24-2) jumped out on a 13-1 run to start the second half.
"We had 11 turnovers in the second half, but I bet eight were in the third quarter, and they all led to transition baskets," Huff said. "Roswell is solid in the halfcourt, but they really press and get after you in the open court, and they like to run the floor and attack the basket. We just didn't protect the ball well enough."
PV had great success on the boards early in the game, but eventually Roswell started getting second-chance opportunities in the fourth quarter. Many of those led to 3-point plays for Roswell converted at the free-throw line.
"We treated it like we were playing (Christian) Mackey, the big guy from Kirtland. We wanted to make sure we blocked out and be physical with them," Huff said. "We did that, and I was real proud of the guys for that."
Piedra Vista shot 19-of-41 from the field and 13-of-23 from the free-throw line.
Roswell was 33-for-62 from the field and 12-of-17 at the line. The Coyotes also committed 24 turnovers in the game.
Ty Jaquez led Piedra Vista with 21 points in his final high school game.
"He was a stud today, like he has been all year. He was sick and didn't go to school two days this week," Huff said. "His energy was kind of low, but he was able to come out and play as hard as he could. A guy like that, you get on his back and hope to ride his emotions. We did that a lot this season."
PV was without senior guard Jacob Armijo, who sustained a concussion during the District 1-4A tournament title game at Farmington.
Valdez was the only other Panther in double-figured with 14 points.
"He is our spark guy, and brought the energy. He knew with (Armijo) out, he had to bring extra energy for everyone else," Huff said.
Connor Olguin, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, led Roswell with 29 points and 10 rebounds. He also had four steals and three assists.
Stephen Lucero scored 13 more points while collecting seven steals for the Coyotes. Matthew Sedillo scored 12 points while dishing out four assists and Alex Olesinski also got in double figures with 10 points.
Even when Roswell's lead reached as high as 26 points, the Panthers wouldn't go down without a fight.
"I don't think the guys ever put their heads down. There were one or two points in the second half where they realized they needed to step it up, and they would," Huff said. "The guys played hard throughout the game. With all the odds against you and playing a great team like Roswell, that is all you can ask for from them as coaches."
PV graduates nine seniors from the varsity squad this year, but Huff is excited about the future as he goes into his first full offseason as the Panthers' head coach.
"We have Dixon coming back who was our starting point guard all year. Valdez is also coming back. the strides those two made this year will really help us going forward," Huff said. "We had a solid JV team this year. Those kids come out and play hard.
"I came into this program this year thinking we had to build on the successes of Brian Shock. I think we maintained it. We didn't take a step back, but it wasn't as big of a step forward as I hoped for. It is hard for a first-year head coach, but I think we will make strides next season."
John Livingston may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.