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Boys basketball: LA tops Capital Saturday, but Kirk suffers an elbow injury

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By Mike Cote

It took more than a full game of basketball and nothing has yet been determined, including the status of a star player.

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The Los Alamos Hilltoppers posted an improbable comeback at home Saturday night against the Capital Jaguars in a big boys District 2AAAA basketball game. With just 6.2 seconds remaining, Hilltopper center Alex Kirk drilled three straight free throws to tie the contest and force overtime.

In overtime, Los Alamos outscored Capital 8-4 to win 62-58.

However, Kirk, Los Alamos’ 6-foot-11 center, fell on his left elbow several times in the game and was taken to the hospital immediately afterward. The severity of the injury was unknown, but Hilltopper head coach Alan Kirk said it was serious enough to call into question his immediate future.

Meanwhile, Los Alamos covered exactly the point spread it needed to cover to force a tie for the 2AAAA runner-up spot. Capital, had it lost by less than four points Saturday, would’ve clinched the runner-up position outright.

Los Alamos assistant coach Pat Archuleta said after the win he believed the next tiebreaker was total point differential of the eight district games, a scenario which tilts in the Hilltoppers’ favor.

The second-place finisher would host this week’s 2AAAA tournament semifinal game, while the third-place team would have to play a quarterfinal district game before the semifinal.

Saturday at Griffith Gymnasium, Los Alamos (17-8 overall, 5-3 in 2AAAA) trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half to Capital, which had mostly dominated the opening half.

Led by its athletic point guard Reece Goodman, Capital (12-11 overall, 5-3 in 2AAAA) ran the floor effectively and was able to hit some long-range shots to keep the Hilltopper defense off-balance.

Goodman finished the night with 28 points but was held to just one point in the overtime period Saturday.

“It was a good comeback by the kids,” coach Kirk said. “It got a little sloppy at the end. We should’ve protected the ball, but we showed a lot of heart coming back from 11 points down.”

Alex Kirk sank two free throws with 1:46 remaining in the overtime period to give Los Alamos’ its all-important 4-point lead.

Los Alamos trailed by 3 late in the fourth quarter, with Goodman converting both ends of a 1-and-1 opportunity, but Kirk hoisted up three straight 3-pointers to try and tie the score to force overtime.

On the third attempt, he was backed into by a Capital guard while still in the air and went to the ground. With Los Alamos needing all three free throws, Kirk swished the first two then got the roll on the third to force the overtime period.

Kirk went into Saturday’s game off a 20-for-20 foul shooting performance against Española Valley Wednesday.

Russell, meanwhile, posted a very good non-statistical game, helping to run the point for Los Alamos after Wade Archuleta fouled out in the fourth quarter. Russell might have had a good statistical game as well, but missed out on at least three assists on the night with the Hilltoppers missing some easy shots he’d set them up with.

Russell said he wasn’t concerned about who did or didn’t get the credit, however. His concern was that Los Alamos finish on a good note.

“Hopefully, we’ll get the right seed,” he said. “If we win the tournament, we’ll get a good seed at state. Maybe if we go to state, we’ll knock off Española.”