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Anthony Armendariz lofts a shot over St. Pius’ Taylor Padilla during the first half Tuesday at Bulldog Pit. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

After trailing for the majority of the first half Tuesday at Bulldog Pit, the Runnin’ ‘Dogs battled back against the visiting St. Pius Sartans, just missing a regulation win but going on to get the job done in overtime, 61-57.

Things may have gone downhill from the field for both teams in the second half of play, but the boys in orange made clutch shots at key moments to put themselves in front and stay there down the stretch.

Artesia didn’t quite get the free throws they needed in the final moments of regulation, however, leaving the door open for a last-second, game-tying trey by the boys in black and gold. The ‘Dogs improved their performance from the stripe in overtime, however, to give themselves the boost necessary to pull away for good.

St. Pius was able to jump out to a 14-4 lead in the opening quarter Tuesday, spurred by consecutive three-pointers from Joedon McConnell. Artesia closed out the period with a 9-0 run, however, that included a Luke Nelson trey and buckets from Anthony Armendariz, Jacob Creighton and Johntae Rodriguez to trail by just one heading into the second, 14-13.

There, the two squads battled out a high-energy showdown, with Armendariz briefly putting Artesia in front with an offensive board to start the quarter, 15-14, but the Sartans answering with 10-2 spurt that put them back in the driver’s seat with just under three minutes to go in the half, 24-17.

Cody Smith delivered a three at the 2:30 mark and Nelson and Cole Kincaid answered buckets by Pius’ Zachary Kolkmeyer as the quarter fell under a minute-and-a-half. But although both ends of a one-and-one by Rodriguez made it a two-point affair, 28-26, a layup off a cross-court pass at the buzzer by Jonah Arnett kept the Sartans in front by four at the break, 30-26.

The boys in orange were able to double up on St. Pius, 12-6, in an overall inaccurate quarter for both teams in the third, regaining the lead on a 6-0 start that included baskets from Armendariz and Kale Mauritsen, and two from the line by the latter.

A pair of treys from Rodriguez and Clay Houghtaling helped see the ‘Dogs to a four-point edge, 38-34, with 3:30 to go in the period, but from there, a rash of missed buckets comprised the final moments, with Pius’ Phillip Martinez posting two from the stripe in the final minute to trim Artesia’s lead to two, 38-36, going into the fourth.

Arnett delivered a three as the period began to put Pius back on top by one, but two buckets apiece from Armendariz and Rodriguez gave Artesia their largest lead of the night, 46-41, midway through.

That five-point advantage would stand until the final 67 seconds of play, when a McConnell longball brought the Sartans back within two, 48-46.

Smith dove into the lane to scoop up a missed free throw and put it back to give Artesia an all-important four-point cushion around the 20-second mark, but Kolkmeyer was able to put one off the glass with 12 seconds to go to make it 50-48. Mauritsen then hit the front end of a one-and-one attempt with 10 seconds on the clock but was unable to procure the second, and a McConnell trey with one second left tied it up at 51-all.

The Sartans and their fans were energized by the clutch shot, but the Bulldogs didn’t let the comeback faze them, kicking off the overtime session with baskets from Nelson and Mauritsen that put them up by four, 55-51.

A pair of baskets by Arnett were both followed by 2-2 showings from the stripe by Josiah Sarinana and Mauritsen to keep the ‘Dogs in the lead, and a pair of Arnett free throws with four seconds to go were answered in kind by Mauritsen to round out the final, 61-57.

Mauritsen and Rodriguez led Artesia in scoring on the contest with 13 each, followed by Armendariz with 10. McConnell led all scorers for Pius with 17, while Kolkmeyer finished with 15.

The Bulldogs will now prepare to head north for their first road action of the young season, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday with Valencia in Los Lunas, followed by a 2:30 p.m. bout Saturday against Del Norte in Albuquerque. The ‘Dogs will take on Class 5A Hobbs at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 on the road in their final pre-Christmas contest.