More than just a game

Tigers and Pintos fans wore green ribbons in honor of the two student athletes who died in car crash

Matthew Narvaiz
Posted 1/28/20

When Taos hosted Moriarty on Tuesday night (Jan. 28), it was more than just a basketball game.

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More than just a game

Tigers and Pintos fans wore green ribbons in honor of the two student athletes who died in car crash


When Taos hosted Moriarty on Tuesday night (Jan. 28), it was more than just a basketball game.

Though the Tigers came away with a big 71-38 victory, the score was mostly an afterthought.

The stands were filled with Tigers fans and Pintos fans, too, and most wore green ribbons handed out by the school to honor the death  of two student athletes.

Pedro and Mateo Sandoval, brothers who were 16 and 14 years old, respectively, died just two weeks ago (Jan. 14) after being involved in a head-on crash with a pickup truck in Moriarty as they were headed to school. They played both basketball and football.

The Taos basketball players wore green wristbands, with “#30” and “#40” written on them.

All players on the Moriarty bench had matching white Nikes with messages like, “#SandovalStrong” and “R.I.P. #30 #40.”

Both Ernie and Alexandria Sandoval, the parents of Pedro and Mateo, were in attendance on Tuesday to support the Pintos.

Shortly before the game started, there was a 10-second moment of silence. And shortly after that, player introductions were in full gear.

When the Taos Tigers (15-5, 2-0) were introduced, all of the players walked up to the Sandoval parents and showered them with hugs — and flowers.

It was a moment that seemed to convey that some stuff is bigger than basketball.

“It was nice to see our community come out and not only support the Sandoval family but the entire Moriarty Pintos team tonight,” Taos head coach Hernando Chavez said. “I know there are no words we can say or donations we can give that can begin to explain what they might be going through. But if there is anything we can do to offer a little support — we’d like to do that.”

Nickie McCarty, the Taos high school athletic director, confirmed that the school’s portion of money from the 50/50 was given to the Sandoval family. And the winner of the raffle last night, Jacquelyn Chavez, who is coach Chavez’s wife, donated her winnings to the family, too.

Taos high school student council members held a change drive on Monday and Tuesday (Jan. 27-28) and raised $247, McCarty said. Over $1,000 was donated to the family in total. The money will go toward a scholarship fund the family is setting up.

McCarty said it was the largest 50/50 raffle so far this year.

“Our hearts were broken for them,” McCarty said. “We just wanted to do whatever we could do to make it a little better for them.”

Taos had taken control early on. By the half, Taos was up 40-18, leaving hardly any room for a Pintos comeback.

Moriarty head coach Marcus Ortiz wasn’t thrilled with the outcome, but understood that playing basketball hasn’t been the easiest thing for his team to do in recent weeks.

However, helping his players navigate their emotions after a loss that’s still so fresh in their minds is most important.

“It’s never easy, especially after a loss,” Ortiz said. “One thing about these guys is they have tremendous perseverance. We fought hard and played hard in the boys’ honor.

“It’s a rough situation that the boys are in. … All we can do is encourage these boys to continue to play hard throughout the rest of the year.”

Ortiz said that the district — both Moriarty and Taos play in District 2-4A — has been more than helpful for the family and team.

“The whole district has been overwhelming with support,” Ortiz said. “That means a lot to the community, our program and the kids’ family as well.”

Chavez said that there’s one thing that unites many — and that’s basketball.

“Even that first day when we heard the news, we came out and shared it with the athletes. I held up a basketball and said, ‘This is what unites us,’” Chavez said. “Even though they are playing for Moriarty and we are playing for Taos, or whatever team it may be in the district or state, that basketball unites us all.”


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