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With blowing snow and cold in northern New Mexico, a trip to Las Cruces for the holidays is coming at a good time for the Hilltoppers.The Hilltopper girls varsity basketball team is heading south for a three-day tournament at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces. They are taking part in the Memorial Medical Center Holiday Hoop-la.The Pan American Center is the home floor of New Mexico State University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams. Los Alamos is hoping to play on a similar floor — the hardwood at University Arena in Albuquerque — later in the season.The tournament, which pits four New Mexico teams and four El Paso, Texas, teams, starts Thursday and continues through Saturday.This will be the second trip for the Hilltopper girls to the Hoop-la tournament, having traveled to Las Cruces this time last season.Los Alamos head coach Gerry Washburn said his team wanted to participate last season because it would get to see the likes of Class AAAA foes Deming and Silver, which were both participating. Both teams have since found other things to do.Because of that, Washburn said this year’s appearance will likely be the last for Los Alamos.The trip will hardly be wasted this season, however.“We’ll get to see a different style of play,” Washburn said. “We’ll see some quality teams.”Los Alamos will leave bright and early Thursday morning, arriving at the Pan Am Center just in time to play El Paso Hanks at noon.“They will have played quite a bit more,” Washburn said. “They’re an established program, have an established coach. We’ve got to be ready to play when we get on the floor.”The Hanks Knights (11-6) are one of the most respected teams in the El Paso area.The Knights have won seven straight games heading into the Hoop-la, including wins over three other teams in the tournament, Mayfield, Oñate and Socorro.This season, Hanks hasn’t scored a ton of points — it’s scored better than 57 points just four times — but hasn’t given up a lot of points, either. It has held opponents under 40 points in four games during its current win streak.
2007 Memorial Medical Center Holiday Hoop-la
ThursdayLas Cruces vs. El Paso Andress, 9 a.m.Los Alamos vs. El Paso Hanks, noonOñate vs.El Paso Chapin, 3:30 p.m.Socorro (Texas) vs. Mayfield, 6:30 p.m.
FridayLas Cruces-Andress loser vs. Los Alamos-Hanks loser, 9 a.m.Oñate-Chapin loser vs. Socorro-Mayfield loser, noonLas Cruces-Andres winner vs. Los Alamos-Hanks winner, 3:30 p.m.Oñate-Chapin winner vs. Socorro-Mayfied winner, 6:30 p.m.
SaturdaySeventh-place game, 9 a.m.Third-place game, noonFifth-place game, 3:30 p.m.Championship game, 6:30 p.m.