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The Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team will have a tall order to fill tonight when it takes on the defending Class 4A champions.
Los Alamos meets the Roswell Coyotes in the first round of the Poe Corn Invitational tonight. The Poe Corn, one of the oldest continuously held basketball tournaments in the state, gets going today in Roswell.
In recent years, the Hilltoppers have been a regular at the Poe Corn. In 2009, the Hilltoppers finished third in the tournament, topping co-host Goddard in the third place game one night after struggling against the Coyotes.
The Coyotes, who held on to upset the Española Valley Sundevils in the 2009-10 Class 4A championship, were ranked second behind those same Sundevils in the most recent coaches’ poll.
Roswell (4-2), which also won the 4A title in 2008-09, might not be the same team it was during its championship runs, having already lost this season to Portales and, just a week ago, to Los Lunas, 73-61.
While the Hilltoppers (3-8) have gotten off to a rocky start, they will head into tonight’s game having won two in a row. Following an opening round loss to the Pojoaque Elks at the Ben Lujan Invitational last week, Los Alamos knocked off Peñasco and Taos to finish in fifth place.
Los Alamos’ Travis Richins, who finished all three games in double-figures, was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Wednesday, Los Alamos could well see Belen for the second time this season, as both teams are on the same half of the bracket.
Los Alamos’ first victory of the season came against Belen, a 35-29 decision Dec. 7. Belen faces Artesia tonight.
The Poe Corn is the third straight tournament the Hilltoppers are taking part in this month. The Hilltoppers finished eighth at the Joe Armijo Invitational at Albuquerque Academy before the Ben Lujan Invitational.
Here is the bracket for the Poe Corn Invitational Tournament:
Piedra Vista vs. Del Norte, Goddard High School, 5:30 p.m.
Chaparral vs. Goddard, Goddard High School, 7 p.m.
Artesia vs. Belen, Roswell High School, 5:30 p.m.
Los Alamos vs. Roswell, Roswell High School, 7 p.m.
Piedra Vista-Del Norte loser vs. Chaparral-Goddard loser, TBA.
Artesia-Belen loser vs. Los Alamos-Roswell loser, TBA.
Piedra Vista-Del Norte winner vs. Chaparral-Goddard winner, TBA.
Artesia-Belen winner vs. Los Alamos-Roswell winner, TBA.
Seventh-place game, 11 a.m.
Fifth-place game, 11 a.m.
Third-place game, 12:30 p.m.
Championship game, 2 p.m.
The Hilltopper girls were handed their second big loss in a row Monday night in Roswell.
The Hilltoppers, taking part in the Roswell-Goddard Classic this week, were thumped by Class 5A Carlsbad 54-32 to open the three-day tournament. A tournament schedule was unavailable.
Monday’s game was the first for Los Alamos in a week, when it was handily defeated by Kirtland Central, the top-ranked Class 4A team in the state, 68-29, in the Four Corners area.