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Boys basketball: Toppers hold on to top Horsemen

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By The Staff

A tight, uneven contest wasn’t exactly what the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team was hoping for Thursday.

But the most important part, a win over a quality opponent, was exactly what the Hilltoppers wanted.

The Hilltoppers, led by a big outing from seniors Alex Kirk and Zach Parks, held on despite a late rally to knock off the St. Michael’s Horsemen 54-52 at Perez-Shelley Gymnasium in Santa Fe. The victory upped their record to a spotless 4-0 on the young season.

Kirk and Parks both finished with 21 points, with Kirk posting his first triple-double of the season. Parks hit 3 3-pointers on the evening to balance Kirk’s presence on the inside.

Los Alamos, according to head coach Alan Kirk, started playing a little tentative in the fourth quarter, which the Horsemen took advantage of as they made a big charge late.

Nevertheless, a win over St. Mike’s, one of the premier Class AAA programs in the state, is a good win no matter how it comes.

“I think when you look at it, coach (Ron) Geyer is a strict, disciplinary coach when it comes to the execution of his offense and defense,” Kirk said of his St. Mike’s counterpart, one of the most respected coaches in northern New Mexico. “At this point in the season, even, they’re going to be very methodical and very thorough. They worked hard to control the tempo.”

As it did two nights earlier against Moriarty, however, Los Alamos came up with a big defensive stand in the second quarter. With Los Alamos up 11-10 after one period, the defense allowed just six St. Mike’s points in the second quarter to take a 22-16 edge into the locker room.

Los Alamos came back from the half with its most productive quarter of the game, dropping in 20 points in the third quarter. It held a 10-point edge heading into the final period.

In the fourth quarter, however, St. Mike’s (0-1) took advantage of some errant passes and forced several Los Alamos turnovers to rally back. But in the final quarter, Los Alamos was able to knock down enough of its free throw chances to hold on for the victory.

The Hilltoppers converted on 11 of their 16 chances from the stripe, a little better than they had shot in the first three games of the season. St. Mike’s made it to the line just eight times Thursday, hitting four of those chances.

Along with his 21 points, Kirk also grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked a whopping 11 shots to earn his triple-double. Kirk had five triple-doubles in 2008-09.

Thomas Russell and Austin Wolstein both finished with five points Thursday.

Parks, meanwhile, has shot well from the outside in the first four Hilltopper outings, something that Kirk has been thrilled to see.

“We know we’ve got to have those other scorers,” Kirk said. “We can’t rely on one type of game. We’ve got to have other people pick it up.”

Los Alamos currently owns the second-best record in Class AAAA, behind only Grants, which is sitting at 5-0.

NOTE: Los Alamos’ home game Saturday against Farmington has an early 4 p.m. start time.