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SANTA FE — A good start to the first half by the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team wasn’t sustained into the second half Wednesday night.
Los Alamos jumped out to an 8-0 lead against the Capital Jaguars Thursday, but the district-leading Jaguars came back to outscore Los Alamos 22-12 for the rest of the first half. To start the second half, the Jaguars held the Hilltoppers to just five points.
Capital cruised the rest of the way to a 53-39 victory Wednesday at Edward Ortiz Gymnasium. The game was the finale of the regular season for Los Alamos.
Hilltopper head coach Fil Dominguez said his team struggled with its defensive communication, particularly in the second half. It also struggled to keep its mojo going in a far less-raucous venue than at Griffith Gymnasium where it topped arch-rival Friday night.
“They lulled us to sleep a little bit,” Dominguez said. “It was a really flat environment. It’s not the same energy we had against Española. But even with that, you’ve got to play.”
Hilltopper Nick Baker scored three quick buckets in the first quarter. His layup, driving through the teeth of the Capital defense with 3:22 remaining gave the Hilltoppers an 8-0 edge.
The Jaguars (20-5 overall, 7-0 in 2-4A), who had already claimed the district regular season title heading into Wednesday’s game, bounced back from the slow start, however. They countered the Hilltoppers’ 8-0 run with a 14-3 streak of their own.
Capital shot 50 percent from the field for the game. Jaguar center Taylor Martinez had 12 points, 10 of those in the second half to pace his team.
For Los Alamos (10-16, 3-5), it finishes in third place in the 2-4A standings — it holds the tiebreaker over both Española Valley and Santa Fe.
Baker finished with a game-high 19 points and Thomas Russell added eight points.
But the Hilltoppers struggled offensively in the third quarter, scoring just five points against an effective half-court trapping defense.
The Hilltoppers also again struggled to convert free throws, misfiring on 7 of 18 attempts.