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The 2010-11 version of the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team will no doubt be a rebuilding project.
The big question going into the season is how big of a project will it be?
The Hilltoppers and their largely new-look roster will premier at home Friday night. They will take on the always-tough Pojoaque Elks at 7 p.m.
Los Alamos has just three returning players from last season, all three of them reserves, as well as four underclassmen on its opening day roster.
The younger players will get tested quickly this season. Along with Friday’s game against the Elks, Los Alamos will play at St. Michael’s Saturday night before hosting Moriarty a week later.
Of the three returners this season, Tina Radosevich will be the one who saw the most playing time last season.
Radosevich turned into a solid sixth man coming off the bench during the District 2AAAA season, which included a big effort in the first round of the state tournament, in which she scored seven points and grabbed three offensive rebounds playing in place of injured starter Sarah Worland.
For her efforts in the second half of the season, Radosevich earned an Honorable Mention nod in 2AAAA.
In 2010-11, Los Alamos finished with a record of 20-11 and advanced to the state Class AAAA quarterfinals before falling to its arch nemesis Española Valley. Los Alamos and Española Valley met five times last season, with the Sundevils winning four of those five contests, two of those in Española and the other two on neutral courts.
Returning to helm the Hilltoppers this season is head coach Tarah Logan. Logan, who has led the Hilltoppers to a playoff berth in each of her first two seasons, will have her toughest challenge yet to get the team back.
Her biggest challenge this season will be to get the team through what looks to be a brutal nondistrict season, one which includes, following these first three potentially difficult contests, back-to-back-to-back dates in the Four Corners, climaxed by a Dec. 20 tilt with the Kirtland Central Broncos, the defending Class AAAA champion and one of the most successful prep programs in the nation.
Kirtland Central earned the top spot in the preseason AAAA coaches’ poll and is expected to vie for yet another state title — its 19th since 1979-80 — again this season.
Other big contests include Jan. 4 at Volcano Vista and Jan. 7 at St. Pius X.
Should Los Alamos be able to make it through the nondistrict schedule in good shape, it will be well positioned to vie for a District 2AAAA title, although it would still have to get by the two-time champion Sundevils, who were ranked fourth in the preseason coaches’ poll — Los Alamos came in ninth in the same poll.
Beyond the three seniors, however, Los Alamos has virtually zero varsity experience on the rest of the squad.
Among its younger players, however, there is some talent with freshmen Hayley Each and McKenzie Logan both showing promise during preseason workouts and sophomore Erin Kirk, who had a successful sub-varsity season in 2009-10.