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The Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team hung around with the Class 5A Sandia Matadors for a little more than a quarter and a half, but the Matadors started to pull away late in the first half.
The Matadors went on a 13-2 run in the final 3:28 of the second quarter to take control of the ballgame. The Matadors never looked back, earning a 55-29 victory Saturday at Griffith Gymnasium.
Saturday’s game was the final one of the nondistrict season for the Hilltoppers, who open 2AAAA play Wednesday with the Bernalillo Spartans.
Los Alamos (4-14) had another decent defensive outing Saturday, but Sandia, with a bevy of weapons on both the inside and outside, proved to be a difficult task. Meanwhile, the Hilltoppers, already short-handed, were without their top player, Thomas Russell, who was benched with a toe injury.
With Russell out — he is expected to return for the game against the Spartans — Los Alamos looked to Nick Baker for leadership. Baker came through, despite picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter.
Baker finished the contest with a team-high 11 points, seven in the first half, and four rebounds.
But the Matadors (8-4) countered with excellent guard play. The specialty of guards Isaiah Rogers and Javon Brown was tapping the ball away from dribblers near the timeline and converting those into points on the other end, two such plays sparking the run late in the first half.
Brown had a game-high 17 points while he and Rider combined for six steals in the first half.
Offensively, Los Alamos showed a little more punch than it had Thursday when it was held to 18 points by Pojoaque, but still failed to score 30 points for the third straight game. Travis Richins finished with seven points while Bobby Sanders had six points and seven rebounds.
Saturday’s loss was the fifth straight for the Hilltoppers.