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Boys basketball: Pojoaque upends LA in tournament

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By Mike Cote

JACONA — The two Ben Lujan Tournament semifinal teams wanted Friday’s game badly.However, in more than one spot in the game it looked like neither wanted the game at all.In the semifinal game, played at Ben Lujan Gymnasium, the Hilltoppers opened an 8-point halftime lead but lost that lead by the end of the third quarter.In the fourth quarter, the Pojoaque Elks grabbed the lead and threatened to pull away several times, but shot just 3-for-10 from the free throw line in the final period, keeping the Hilltoppers in the game.Alex Kirk, who finished with a game-high 24 points for Los Alamos, banked a 3-pointer off the glass with 5.0 seconds remaining to cut the Pojoaque lead to one, but Los Alamos wouldn’t get another shot off in the Elks’ 52-50 victory.The Elks, whom the Hilltoppers beat in the Ben Lujan finals in 2006, advanced to Saturday’s title game against Marin Catholic. The ’Toppers faced the Socorro Warriors, whom Marin beat 70-46 in Friday’s other semifinal, in the tourney’s third-place game.“I wanted to play that California team real bad,” Los Alamos head coach Alan Kirk said after Friday’s game.More information on the tournament will appear in the Monitor later this week.Los Alamos led 29-21 at the half Saturday. The two teams both hit nine field goals in the first half, but Alex Kirk drained all eight of his attempted free throws in the first half — as a team, Los Alamos shot 10 of 11 — which was the difference at the break.Kirk finished the contest 11-for-11 from the stripe.Nik Allen had 12 points and Ben Allen chipped in 7. Ryan Gonzales, one of the most prolific scorers in the state, had 20 points, a total Coach Kirk said he would give Gonzales every time.Alex Kirk also finished Friday’s game with 9 rebounds.