Boys basketball: LA rolls to a big win, goes to 3-0

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By Mike Cote

It was a win-win situation for the coaching staff of the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team Tuesday.

Not only did the Hilltoppers put together one of their best home outings in the tenure of head coach Alan Kirk Tuesday night, they also gave him something to complain about.

Los Alamos rolled over the Moriarty Pintos at Griffith Gymnasium, holding them to a total of eight points in the middle quarters. Los Alamos dropped in 28 points to take control of the game in the second quarter, then coasted to a 71-28 victory.

Heading into the season, there was some question as to whether the Hilltoppers (3-0) would be able to find a compliment to Division-I center Alex Kirk, but those questions appear to be getting answered in the forms of forwards Austin Wolstein and Brandon Owens, who both put up solid numbers Tuesday for the second game in a row.

Wolstein finished with his second-straight double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Owens finished with just four points — he had limited touches in the second half after the game was well in-hand — but was able to get loose several times on the back side of the Moriarty defense and had a good defensive effort in his own right, grabbing five rebounds.

Meanwhile, Kirk was an absolute menace against the Pintos Tuesday. Kirk scored 27 points in three quarters of play — he sat out the entire fourth quarter — hitting 11 of 15 shots from the floor and collected 10 rebounds.

Kirk also finished with four blocked shots and three assists, taking full advantage of the 8-inch height discrepancy between himself and the tallest Moriarty player, senior Jordan Mattson.

“It was a good effort by everybody,” coach Kirk said afterward. “It was nice. There’s still things to work on. I wasn’t happy with the passing. We got sloppy (in the first quarter). You get lackadaisical and we made some silly passes and they got layups off those.”

The Hilltoppers started off Tuesday’s game like gangbusters, opening on a 10-0 run in the first 2-plus minutes. But Moriarty, led by its senior point guard Corey Bond, countered with a quick 6-0 run of its own to get right back into the ballgame.

Bond, who had 31 points Saturday night in a loss to Belen, scored seven points in the first quarter to help get the Pintos back. They trailed by just three points after one quarter, taking advantage of six Los Alamos turnovers in the opening period.

But Los Alamos’ monster second quarter, which started off with an impressive 19-2 run spanning more than five minutes, effectively put the game out of reach by the half.

Kirk had 12 points in the quarter and Wolstein added 7 more in the quarter, while point guard Zach Parks hit one of his three first-half 3-pointers and added a steal and an assist in the quarter to sustain the run.

Parks finished with 14 points, nine of them coming off 3s, and six assists, while sophomore guard Austin Aslin added eight points off the bench in the fourth quarter. Guard Wade Archuleta had five assists Tuesday night.

Bond finished with 13 for the Pintos (1-3). No other Moriarty player finished with more than four points.

Tuesday’s was the third straight home victory for the Hilltoppers, who have beaten two Class AAAA teams — they topped Kirtland Central in their opener last week — and a team that will be in their district starting next season.