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The Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team got off to a good start at Roswell’s Poe Corn Invitational Tuesday night.
The Hilltoppers survived a slow, dreary first round game against the Valenica Jaguars Tuesday. The Jaguars were in no hurry to move the ball down the court against the Hilltoppers, but even though they tried to run a methodical half-court offense, they couldn’t crack the sturdy Hilltopper defense.
Los Alamos won the Poe Corn opener 40-30 and advances to play the top team in the state tonight, the Roswell Coyotes.
The Coyotes, who crushed the Aztec Tigers 70-20 in Tuesday’s first round, are 6-1 on the season. The Coyotes are the defending Class AAAA champion and have been ranked No. 1 in the statewide coaches’ poll all season long.
“Tonight, it’ll be a good game,” Los Alamos head coach Alan Kirk said. “The kids played OK (Tuesday), but I think the layoff hurt them a little bit.”
Hilltopper center Alex Kirk posted a season-low 7 points Tuesday night, but his offensive prowess wasn’t needed. Guard Zach Parks finished with 16 points and Austin Wolstein chipped in 9 points to lead the Hilltoppers.
Kirk found plenty of other ways to contribute other than scoring points, however. Not only was he the outlet at the top against Valencia’s press break — a position he’s gotten well accustomed to during the last several Los Alamos games — he also finished with 12 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.
The Hilltoppers (10-2) have seen plenty of full-court pressure this season and have so far done an effective job breaking it. They turned the ball over just three times in the first half against the Jagaurs (3-7).
“The only ones who got to us with their press was Hope Christian,” coach Kirk said. “They had the height upfront against Alex. The rest of them, we’ve been able to use him as our outlet. Other than that, those things are to be expected. We know everyone’s going to press us.”
Los Alamos never trailed in Tuesday’s ballgame.
The championship side of the Poe Corn bracket – one of the oldest continuously-run tournaments in the state – is loaded. Along with Roswell and Los Alamos, who face off at 7 p.m., the very tough Belen Eagles (4-0) will take on Goddard tonight with the winners of those games playing in Thursday’s finale.