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Matt King, the former head coach of the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team, announced his resignation late last month, just a little over a year after being hired.
King confirmed he’d stepped down from his post to take over the head coaching job at Clovis High School.
Los Alamos athletic director Vicki Nelms, who had been in Texas with her family when she got the news about King, said she’d gotten several phone calls and e-mails inquiring about the position almost immediately after she’d posted the head coaching vacancy on the New Mexico Activities Association’s website.
Nelms said she was surprised by King’s departure. Although Nelms was aware that King had talked to and interviewed with Clovis, she didn’t think that would result in his hiring.
“I wish Matt the best of luck,” she said. “I’m disappointed he’s not back with the kids, but I can only wish him the best. I hope it’s the right decision for him and his family.”
Los Alamos Public Schools announced it wants applications for the position by Thursday and will start the interview process early next week.
King was hired in May 2010 to replace retiring head coach Alan Kirk. Along with taking over the Hilltoppers’ program, King was also hired as an English teacher at the high school.
The departure comes at a critical time of the prep basketball season when teams are participating in summer camps and summer tournaments.
King, who couldn’t be reached for comment, came to Los Alamos after being an assistant coach at both La Cueva and Volcano Vista High Schools. Prior to that, he’d been a standout player with La Cueva’s Bears and even played for one season at the University of New Mexico.
To get the top job at Clovis, one of the most high-profile jobs in the state, King beat out an impressive list of applicants which included former Hobbs head coach Russ Gilmore.
King moves on to his second top position. The 2010-11 season was his first leading a program. Under King, the Hilltoppers finished with a 7-21 record.
The Hilltoppers struggled throughout their season but showed improvement during the latter half of the year. However, the Hilltoppers’ improvement came right around the time they started District 2-4A play, the toughest stretch of their season.
While Los Alamos hung close in many of its district games, it managed just a 3-7 record and was knocked out in the 2-4A tournament quarterfinals, falling 45-40 to Santa Fe.
It came as little surprise that Los Alamos didn’t fare well in the win-loss column with a new coach and no seniors on the roster, not to mention losing center Alex Kirk, who is currently playing for UNM.
While Los Alamos became a very solid defensive team over the course of the season, its offense was slow and plodding and often struggled to put points on the board. Los Alamos offensive possessions with eight to 10 passes around the perimeter before attempting a shot were common last season.
It remains to be seen if King will employ the same offensive strategy in Clovis, which has been among the top-scoring teams in Class 5A for many years.
Clovis’ Wildcats advanced to the Class 5A semifinals in March before falling to Manzano. The Wildcats finished 24-3 and averaged a whopping 72.8 points per game under head coach JD Isler.
Los Alamos only scored as many as 60 points once last season and was held to 40 points or less 12 times, including a season-low 18 points against Pojoaque.
The next coach, however, will inherit two very quick guards, Nick Baker and Thomas Russell, to anchor the offense. Down low, Travis Richins a 6-foot, 5-inch sophomore last season, posted decent point and rebound numbers and was named to the Ben Lujan All-Tournament squad in December.