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The debut for the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team went about as well as it could’ve hoped for.
The Hilltopper defense allowed no more than 10 points in any quarter Tuesday night, and the Hilltopper offense was able to handle full-court pressure and create fast break chances as Los Alamos thumped the Kirtland Central Broncos 70-35 in the Four Corners area.
Los Alamos led by double-digits after one quarter and upped its advantage to 22 points by the half, holding Kirtland Central to just 17 first-half points.
Los Alamos head coach Alan Kirk said that while there’s still plenty of work to do, he saw plenty of good things in the team’s opener.
“I wanted to see how we handled their pressure,” he said. “I was looking for (Bronco coach John Zecca) to press, which he did. I was kind of wondering how that was going to affect us, but our kids handled it very well.”
The Hilltoppers (1-0) felt the Broncos (0-1) would be a good test for their new backcourt, as many of their guards have seen limited varsity action.
But the guards responded well. Jack Russell and Doug Hardy both finished in double-digits in the scoring column, with Russell collecting 12 points and Hardy adding 11 more.
Kirk said the guards were able to lead both the team’s press-break and lead the team in transition.
Los Alamos was able to create numerous transition opportunities Tuesday with its defense.
“The kids played very good defense,” Kirk said. “We were able to pick up a number of steals. Our transition points were pretty high, both from our defense and from attacking the press.”
Russell also contributed from the outside, hitting a pair of 3-pointers Tuesday which helped loosen up Kirtland Central’s defense.
Alex Kirk, Los Alamos’ 6-foot, 10-inch center, dropped in 28 points to lead all scorers Tuesday. While other statistics weren’t immediately available after the game, Kirk also grabbed double-digit rebounds and swatted at least five Kirtland Central shot attempts.
Just as he had to deal with in the 2007-08 season, Kirk was beaten up in the paint all night by the Broncos. That’s something he will likely see all throughout this season.
Corey Clark finished with eight points coming off the bench and Zach Parks added six points.
Clark was one of several football players that returned to the team Monday following that team’s playoff loss Saturday at Aztec.
Kirk said he was generally impressed with how the returning football players looked, considering they only had one day of basketball practice before the game.
Not everything went swimmingly Tuesday night, however. Kirk said he was a bit chagrinned that his team shot just 8 of 18 from the foul line Tuesday. Good foul shooting has been key to the team’s success in recent years and Kirk said that subpar performance would be addressed at practice this week.
Nevertheless, the Hilltoppers were generally happy with the opening win and hope to continue that Saturday night at Santa Fe.
“I was pleased for this time of the season, but we’ve got a long way to go as far as getting to accomplish what I think we can accomplish,” Kirk said.
In all, eight Hilltoppers scored Tuesday. Wade Archuleta and Austin Wolstein both had a bucket and John Chalmers finished with a point.