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Boys basketball: LA advances with win over Deming

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By The Staff

DEMING — A cool 18-of-18 from the free throw line nailed down a 63-54 Los Alamos victory at Deming High School Saturday, sending the Hilltoppers to the ‘elite 8’ next week in the Class AAAA State Basketball Tournament in Albuquerque.Twin guards Ben and Nik Allen dictated much of the game’s tempo and the inside play from 6-foot-9 Alex Kirk boosted the ’Toppers to a 15-point lead midway through the third period.Deming (12-18) whittled at that lead and pulled to within three points on three different occasions in that third period.Los Alamos ballooned the lead back up to eight points in the fourth period, but the Wildcats whittled away at it and made it a two-point game with 1:37 to play.“I had no idea Deming would be this strong and that gym was loud,” Ben Allen said after knocking down 8-of-8 free throws down the stretch to secure the win. “I give them props...they are a really good team.”Both teams got off to a slow start with the ’Toppers posting a 10-8 edge.Kirk, Los Alamos sophomore post, was saddled with his third foul and sat out the final 3:30 of the second period. The ’Toppers bench responded by boosting the lead at half to a 28-18 bulge. “Our bench really supported out kids on the floor,” Los Alamos head coach Alan Kirk said. “To get this far it really takes a total effort and we got that tonight.”Leading 30-20 With 5:38 showing on the third-period clock, Los Alamos was the recipient of a 5-point switch. Kirk busted a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Deming was whistled for a foul under the basket.The ’Toppers got possession of the ball and Ben Allen hit, pushing the ’Toppers out in front with their biggest lead at 35-20.“I was a little disappointed in seeing that 15-point lead disappear, but you have to credit Deming,” coach Kirk said. “Anthony Lopez is a great basketball player.”Deming was led by Lopez who scored a game-high 24 points.The Wildcats dipped into the Los Alamos lead by forcing turnovers off a man-to-man full court press. Once Coach Kirk and the ’Toppers figured out the press break offense, it was a matter of stepping up to the free throw line and knocking down 15-footers.“We were 18-of-18 in the fourth period and 5-of-16 the rest of the game,” coach Kirk said. “The radio announcer asked me what happened... I told him we practiced ’em in the first three quarters.”Kirk was dominating in the paint with 22 points, a thunderous dunk, 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots. He also changed a lot shots in and around the basket.Saturday’s performance was Kirk’s third double-double of the postseason. He posted two others in Los Alamos’ two District 2AAAA tournament games.Senior Ben Allen had 20 points to go along with 6 assists and 9 rebounds. Nik Allen added 13 points and five rebounds, while Michael Helland had 10 rebounds.“This was a tough gym to play in, but we are used to the road,” coach Kirk said. “We spent 10 nights on the road this season and we didn’t have a home game in December.”Allen is looking to get the ’Toppers past the first round at state. “Last year, we lost to Artesia, but I think this team has better chemistry,” Allen said. “We just try to go out and play our game and get a good team effort from everybody.”All of the Class AAAA first round games were played Saturday night. Los Alamos learned late Saturday its Wednesday opponent is second-seeded St. Pius X.That game will be played at 8 a.m. Wednesday at University Arena in Albuquerque.Jordan Ramirez finished with nine points and Dale Maag added seven for Deming, which ends its season with a record of 12-18.