Boys basketball: LA’s comeback attempt falls short Tuesday

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By The Staff

The Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team was slow getting out of the gate Tuesday at Volcano Vista.

Following its five-day layoff, Los Alamos managed just six points in the first quarter of Tuesday’s game against Volcano Vista’s Hawks. While Los Alamos was able to tie the score and even grab a late lead, the Hawks hit some big shots in the latter part of the fourth quarter to take a 56-49 victory.

With Los Alamos getting back into the ballgame after spotting Class AAAA Volcano Vista a 15-6 lead after the first eight minutes, the teams were deadlocked with under four minutes remaining in regulation.

However, late in the fourth, a charging call assessed to Hilltopper guard Zach Parks on an apparent bucket swung the late momentum in favor of the Hawks. Hawk guard Mario Molina hit a pair of running 3-pointers off some double picks at the perimeter to help secure the victory for his team.

“(The charging call) was really the turning point of the game,” Los Alamos head coach Alan Kirk said. “At the time, the score was tied…we tried to match baskets that we couldn’t match and Molina hit some fantastic shots. They were exciting shots, but not exciting to be on the other side of.”

Parks was actually shaken up on the play after going down to the hardwood, but did re-enter the game late.

Molina finished with a game-high 25 points, canning 5 3-pointers down the stretch. Volcano Vista’s Sam Haywood, a freshman, finished with 11.

For the Hilltoppers (11-4), Alex Kirk finished with 24 points. Austin Wolstein had 11 points and Parks finished with 6.

Kirk also picked up 10 rebounds and blocked 7 shots. Wolstein and Kirk Webber, who provided most of the offense in Los Alamos’ slow first quarter, finished with 3 rebounds apiece.

Los Alamos actually outscored Volcano Vista the rest of the way following the first quarter, but it wasn’t enough.

“You’ve got to be happy with the effort, but when you’ve got to come back from so far behind, you use up a lot of your energy,” coach Kirk said. “It’s hard to sustain it.”

Volcano Vista (6-5) got off to a rough start early in the season, losing four of its first five, but bounced back nicely with wins over Valley, Sandia and Moriarty along with a narrow loss to La Cueva, the top-rated team in Class 5A.

Kirk said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Volcano Vista do some damage in the Class AAAA playoffs this season.

Volcano Vista High School, located on the extreme west side of Albuquerque, will move on to Class 5A following this academic year.

The Hilltoppers, meanwhile, are currently tied with District 2AAAA rival Española Valley for the most wins in Class AAAA so far this season. They went into Tuesday’s ballgame having won five of six games, but have now lost two of their last three contests.