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FARMINGTON – The Piedra Vista boys basketball team looked out of sorts during the first half of its game against Moriarty Saturday afternoon.

The offense was out of rhythm, missing open shots and forcing contested jumpers. But the Panthers bounced back in the second half to pick up a 62-58 win over the Pintos at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse.

“We were doing one of two things. We were either too robotic with it or not being patient enough,” PV head coach Adam Huff said of the offense during the first half. “When you have those things happening, it looks ugly.”

After the slow start in the first half, the Panthers trailed 24-21 at halftime. But keeping PV in the game during the first half was its 2-3 zone defense.

Throughout the first half, the Panthers (2-1) were able to create turnovers in the zone while contesting most shots the Pintos (1-3) put up.

“It’s one thing we haven’t done a lot here, playing a lot of zone," Huff said. "We’re kind of forced to because of our height, and they’re really buying into it. They’re staying active and tipping passes, and when you do that, you can get out and go.”

PV got its offense on track in the third quarter, matching its first-half offensive output with 21 points in the quarter to take a 42-41 lead heading into the fourth.

“I think we just came out and played smarter basketball,” said PV senior Keegan Acosta, who finished the game with 17 points. “We pushed the tempo a little bit more in the second half. In the first half, we were kind of going through the motions and playing really slow, but in the second half, we came out with a positive attitude and got the job done.”

Holding onto a 59-58 lead, Acosta drew a foul with 21 seconds remaining in the game and went to the line shooting one and one. The senior knocked down both of the free throws to make it a 3-point game.

Acosta said he was telling himself to calm down during the free throws.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of noise going on in the crowd, but what noise there was, I was just to drown in out,” he said. “I know my teammates have faith in me, so I had to have faith in myself.”

After the free throws, Moriarty got the ball to 6-foot-6 Jake Flaming a the left elbow. The senior had an open lane to the basket, but he dribbled the ball off his leg and out of bounds, giving the ball back to PV to secure the win.

PV’s Jarrett Graham and Jimmy Wood finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The Panthers will be off until Thursday, when they meet Kirtland Central in the first round of the Marv Sanders Invitational, hosted by Farmington.

“I think we just need to carry the momentum we have from this weekend into the tournament next week,” Acosta said. “We got a good look at Kirtland (Central) when we scrimmaged them a few weeks ago, and I think we’ll be ready for them.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.

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