Boys basketball: 'Toppers knock off Hawks, 65-47

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By The Staff

While having more turnovers doesn’t usually equate to scoring more points, the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team had that exact thing happen to them late in Tuesday’s ballgame.

With the visiting Volcano Vista Hawks trailing in the second half of Tuesday’s game, the Hawks switched defensive tactics, applying full-court pressure to the Hilltoppers.

And while the Hawks were able to force the Hilltoppers into some turnovers, few ended up being very costly, especially since the Hilltoppers were able to break their press fairly consistently to pick up a 65-47 win at Griffith Gymnasium.

Tuesday’s game was the first home appearance in nearly a month for Los Alamos (11-5), which since a Dec. 9 game against Belen, had been playing at tournaments in Albuquerque, Pojoaque and, most recently, Roswell.

The home contest Tuesday was the first trip by Volcano Vista, a new Class AAAA high school on Albuquerque’s extreme west side, to Los Alamos.

While Los Alamos head coach Alan Kirk said his team turned in a decent game in Tuesday’s win, it wasn’t without some hiccups.

“We got a little sloppy,” Kirk said. “The third quarter was kind of slow … but when things went up-tempo, our turnovers went up. But so did our points.”

Los Alamos led by 10 points at the half, but was nipped 12-11 in the third quarter by Volcano Vista.

In the fourth quarter, the Hilltoppers dropped in 25 points to the Hawks’ 16.

Everybody who got playing time for Los Alamos Tuesday night got on the scoreboard, the first time this season that’s happened. Los Alamos finished with 26 field goals — two from 3-point range — and went 11 of 18 from the free throw line.

Los Alamos was again paced by Alex Kirk’s 22 points. Kirk, the team’s center, also hauled in 14 rebounds, swatted eight shots and gave out five assists.

Guard Doug Hardy, who has had a solid nondistrict season to this point, finished with 11 points and five rebounds. Jack Russell had seven points and six assists from his guard spot, while Corey Clark had seven points and three assists.

Volcano Vista (2-10) was paced by Jordan Salcido, who had 13 points.

The win snapped a two-game skid by Los Alamos in its final two games of Roswell’s Poe Corn Invitational, one of those losses coming against District 2AAAA rival Capital. Los Alamos lost the two games — the other coming against Class AAAA Goddard — by a combined seven points.

Coach Kirk said he was glad to have just one game this week.

“We’ve got four days of practice. I don’t think we’ve had four days straight of practice since the season started,” he said. “The kids won’t like it, but I like it.”

Those four days will be used to prepare for a huge nondistrict game against defending Class AAAA champion St. Pius X, which will be played Jan. 13 in Albuquerque.

Los Alamos has just the Jan. 13 game and a Jan. 16 game at home against Del Norte before district play starts.