Basketball teams hitting the road

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By Mike Cote

Despite weather reports that suggest snow could be coming this weekend, there are still probably plenty of fans that will be willing to brave the elements to catch some basketball.Both the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys and girls squads will be on the road this weekend. The Los Alamos girls will travel to Albuquerque to compete in a tournament which starts tonight.Meanwhile, the Hilltopper boys will head up to the Farmington area for a set of games.Closer to home, Los Alamos’ ice hockey team has another pair of games scheduled at the ice rink.Also this weekend, wrestling fans can travel to Santa Fe to catch the Jaguar Invitational (see story at right) or to catch Los Alamos Middle School Hawk wrestling here.

Girls basketballIt was a rough outing for the Hilltoppers Saturday, and the next one might only get rougher.Los Alamos struggled in its game against the Pojoaque Elks Saturday, falling 51-33 at Ben Lujan Gymnasium.In that game, Los Alamos (2-1) got into a rush. It saw Pojoaque’s full-court pressure much of the night.However, except for a couple of early turnovers, the Hilltoppers didn’t seem to have undue trouble breaking the Elk pressure. The problem was when they got past the timeline, the Hilltoppers were still in press-break mode, throwing up shots as quickly as possible.“We talked to them about playing with patience,” Los Alamos head coach Gerry Washburn said. “When we got them to play with patience, we didn’t make the baskets we needed to make.”Tonight, the Hilltoppers will face the Eldorado Eagles. That game is part of the first round of the Albuquerque Public Schools Invitational.Los Alamos and Eldorado are playing in the APS East bracket. The winner of Thursday’s game, set for 7 p.m., will play the winner of Albuquerque High School and St. Pius X Friday at 7 p.m.Washburn said Eldorado plays a similar style of basketball to Pojoaque. Eldorado likes to keep its games up-tempo and run the floor when it has the chance.“We’re taking three days, learning how to break the press, be patient, get good looks, and dictate the tempo of the game,” Washburn said.The Eagles are 2-1 on the young season, having waxed their two most recent opponents, West Mesa and Del Norte by a combined 134-62. They fell in their season opener to St. Pius 58-53.Some statewide polls had the Eagles ranked fifth in Class AAAAA this season as of last week.The Eagles have some height on their roster, including Christina Faris, a senior power forward who is listed at 6-foot-1. Another seven players are listed at 5-8 or above.On the opposite end of the bracket, Manzano and Valley play tonight at Manzano High School, preceded by Rio Rancho-Highland.The tournament continues through Saturday, with the title game scheduled for Eldorado High School at 7 p.m.

Boys basketballThe way the schedule worked out for the Hilltoppers this season was exactly how they wanted it to work.The first two contests of the season, at home against Kirtland Central and Santa Fe, were good games for the team to get its feet wet. Its game Tuesday against St. Michael’s would be the first real test of the season.And, following the two solid wins at home, St. Michael’s proved to be that tough test. St. Michael’s picked up an early 11-0 lead which it held on to throughout the balance of the game, dropping in some quick points at the end of the fourth quarter to win 55-42.Los Alamos head coach Alan Kirk said he wasn’t happy with how his team tried to keep its composure throughout the contest, a struggle that ended with a pair of technical fouls being slapped on Los Alamos at a critical stage of the game, after Los Alamos had battled its way back to cut the lead down to six.There were some other problems the ’Toppers had Tuesday.“We had lazy passes the whole game,” Kirk said. “That run St. Mike’s had in the first (quarter)…we had lazy passes.”Los Alamos turned the ball over 17 times in the game. Additionally, Los Alamos had just one scorer earn more than four points Tuesday, that being 6-9 center Alex Kirk.Kirk, a sophomore, has scored better than 20 points in each of his first three games, dropping in a season-high 28 against Santa Fe.Los Alamos heads to the Four Corners for a pair of games this weekend. Following Friday’s night’s tilt against Piedra Vista, Los Alamos comes back to face Farmington Saturday afternoon.Piedra Vista has just one game under its belt so far, that being an 85-73 victory over Bayfield, Colo.Piedra Vista’s Panthers advanced to the 2006-07 state AAAA playoffs as a 10 seed, getting bounced in the opening round by seventh-seeded Roswell.Farmington, the reigning District 1AAAA champion, doesn’t open its season until Friday, when it faces Los Alamos’ District 2AAAA rival Capital. Capital (2-0) plays Piedra Vista on the Four Corners road swing Saturday.In last season’s playoffs, Farmington entered as number two seed, but was upset by that same Roswell team in the quarterfinals, 62-60, after first blasting Deming 64-33 in the opening round.

HockeyA pair of games are scheduled this weekend at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink for the Hilltopper ice hockey squad.Los Alamos hosts the Albuquerque Outkast 7 p.m. Friday, then returns Saturday for a tilt with the Santa Fe Blue Jackets. Saturday’s game is scheduled for 10:45 a.m.Los Alamos is 2-0 in New Mexico Ice Hockey League play, tied with Santa Fe and Eldorado for the top spot.The team had a pair of games scheduled last weekend, but both were postponed due to poor ice and weather conditions.Admission to all Los Alamos home games this season is free.