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Girls basketball: Saturday’s game nixed by blackout

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By Mike Cote

It was a low-watt event Saturday afternoon at Griffith Gymnasium. Literally.

Saturday’s scheduled girls basketball game between the Los Alamos Hilltoppers and the St. Pius X Sartans was nixed due to a blackout at Griffith Gymnasium. The power outage reportedly affected several different spots around Los Alamos County.

The visiting Sartans, a longtime rival of the Hilltoppers hung around for 90 minutes after the game’s scheduled start time, but power had not been restored other than a brief flicker which lasted less than a second.

Following the postponement, it was still up in the air whether the two teams would be able to set another date to face off.

“We’re trying,” St. Pius head coach Phil Griego said. “We’re looking at our schedule. We’re really going to have to work hard between our (athletic directors) to see if there’s a date.”

At first glance, Griego said, it was going to be difficult for the two teams to squeeze in the nondistrict game at some point before the end of the season.

The power at Griffith Gym conked out with about 6 minutes remaining in the pregame warm-up session and other than the very brief flicker, never returned.

The loss of Saturday’s games stung both teams to an extent. Los Alamos entered Saturday as one of the hottest teams in Class AAAA having won four straight in convincing fashion. St. Pius, meanwhile, is in sorrowful need of a jump-start to its season and a victory at Los Alamos could’ve very well provided that.

Plus, the two teams have a solid rivalry stemming back from the latter half of the last decade in which they both played together in District 2AAAA.

“We were ready,” Hilltopper guard Jenny Tumas said. “We were ready to kick their butts, but it happens…There were a lot of fans here today. We’ll be ready for them next time.”

The two teams actually met earlier this season at the Joe Armijo Invitational Tournament. In the consolation round, Los Alamos upended St. Pius 49-44, the first time this season Los Alamos had scored more than 40 points in any game.

In their last four games, however, the Hilltoppers had caught fire. They won all four contests, boosting their record to 8-6 and outscoring their four opponents more than 2-to-1.

The Sartans (3-5), however, have struggled this season, surprising for the defending Class AAAA champions who rarely have down years.

Because Los Alamos won that meeting, it would right now be considered ahead of St. Pius in any playoff at-large selection should the two teams find themselves in that position come the end of the regular season.

Los Alamos will play again Tuesday night when it travels to Belen (2-4), a current St. Pius district rival which has also had a rough go of it this season.

Tumas said she feels confident Los Alamos can keep its mojo working through its last two games before the start of the 2AAAA season Jan. 19.

“We’ve been working hard in practice,” she said. “Things are starting to come together. Our shooting has gotten better. Our shooters have been hot. Our passing has been better. Everyone’s working really well together. Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep that up.”