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It’s official: the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team will have the No. 5 seed for the upcoming District 2-4A tournament.
Los Alamos clinched the unenviable fifth seed in the district tournament — meaning it will have to win three straight road games to get to the tournament final — with its loss Tuesday night to the Santa Fe Demons.
The Demons (11-13 overall, 2-4 in 2-4A) put together an impressive 13-0 run to close out the first quarter against the Hilltoppers, who took a 6-5 lead near the halfway point of the quarter. The Demons got back-to-back 3-pointers from Elliot Nicholas and Tres Chaires to spark the first quarter rally.
Then, up by 15 at the break, the Demons opened the third quarter on a 7-0 run, effectively ending the game. They would go on to win 72-41 at Griffith Gymnasium.
Los Alamos had its one and only chance to secure, if nothing else, at least one home game for the district tournament. Instead, it will have to take the longest, toughest route possible to get to the title game.
Getting there from the No. 5 spot isn’t unheard of. Española Valley accomplished that feat in 2005 and the Hilltopper girls did likewise in 2001.
However, Los Alamos will have to play far more consistently than it has to this point in the 2-4A season.
Tuesday’s loss dropped the Hilltoppers to 0-6 in 2-4A (1-22 overall) and five of those six losses have come by 23 points or more.
The Hilltoppers were led by Skyler Veenis, who scored 10 points, including hitting three straight from the floor as his team attempted to come back from a 23-12 deficit in the second quarter.
Los Alamos cut Santa Fe’s advantage to 7 points several times in the second quarter but Nicholas hit some tough shots late in the frame, including converting an old-fashioned 3-point play with 2:45 remaining in the half.
Nicholas, who had a big night against Los Alamos in the teams’ first meeting Jan. 26, dropped in 25 points Tuesday, that while sitting out most of the fourth quarter. Chaires finished with 14 points and Wyatt Honstein added 10.
For Los Alamos, Seth Drop had 9 points coming off the bench and Franklin Archuleta finished with 6 points.