The final minutes of the Alice and Laredo Cigarroa were so intense that school security had to step in to cool unruly fans on both sides.

The Coyotes led by as much as 15 in the first half, but with Alice in foul trouble, the Toros found their shot and made a game of it down the stretch. Cigarroa pulled within three points inside the final minute, but Alice senior John Leija drained back-to-back free throws with five seconds left to secure a 74-69 victory.

As the Alice High School gym slowly cleared afterwards, coach Marco Gonzalez undid his tie and breathed a deep sigh, not of relief, but rather a sigh of content. His Coyotes fought off a determined Cigarroa squad to win their District 29-5A opener.

“We have a way of making a game exciting sometimes,” he said. “Any time you can start the district 1-0, it’s a good thing.”

Leija led Alice with another big night. He finished the game with 35 points, including three three-pointers. Jared Siprian and Austin Garcia each scored 11 points.

Leija, Garcia and Siprian helped Alice to a 17-15 led in the first period. Leija and Garcia each scored six in the first quarter. Siprian scored five.

The Coyotes were able to slow the Toros’ offense with a pressure defense. With their press, Alice went up by 15 by halftime. The Coyotes’ downfall was the pressure defense put the team in foul trouble. Alice played looser in the second half and Cigarroa took advantage. The Toros had six threes in the second half, including five in the final period.

Miguel Gallegos scored 12 of his 23 points in the final period to close in on the Coyotes. The Toros outscored the Coyotes, 31-17, in the fourth period.

Alice is 8-8 for the season and 1-0 in district.