Boys basketball: Toppers take Sartans to the wire but fall at home

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By Mike Cote

The assignment in front of the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys varsity basketball team Tuesday was a sizeable one.The ’Toppers were looking for an end to their three-game losing streak, looking for some momentum and looking to do it against one of the top-rated Class AAAA teams in the state.Although Los Alamos put together one of its best total-team efforts of the season, it still fell short Tuesday night, dropping a nondistrict contest to the St. Pius X Sartans, 69-65.Both teams played well throughout the contest, in which neither team opened up a lead bigger than six points. But St. Pius, after falling behind 14-8 after one period, came back to score 21 points in a track meet style second period. Josh Lujan of St. Pius converted on a fast break opportunity to give the Sartans a 23-22 edge and would lead until the waning minutes of regulation.With 2:35 remaining in the fourth quarter, Hilltopper guard Nik Allen canned a pair of free throws to knot the game at 60, but a late game-icing turnover with just 5.9 seconds left would prove to be costly.It was a rough, hard-nosed contest that would ultimately be determined by foul shooting.“It was tough on both sides,” Los Alamos center Alex Kirk said after the game.

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