LA falls to Española

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By The Staff



When the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team got a punch in on the Española Valley Sundevils Friday night, the Sundevils punched right back.

The key sequence of their District 2-4A game in the second quarter was Española Valley’s answer to a Hilltopper rally.

The Sundevils appeared to be pulling away quickly from Los Alamos when the Hilltoppers forced three quick Sundevil turnovers and took them down the court for buckets.

Skyler Veenis started the rally for the Hilltoppers and Franklin Archuleta followed suit with back-to-back swipes to chop a 13-point lead down to 6 in quick succession.

Española Valley wasted little time in answering back, rebuilding the 13-point edge just as quickly as it had lost it.

After withstanding that rally, Española Valley went on to play nearly even with the Hilltoppers, earning a 50-39 victory at Griffith Gymnasium.

Española Valley improved to 5-2 in district (13-11 overall) with the victory to keep pace in the three-way race for the top spot. Española Valley looked to have the 2-4A regular season title all but wrapped up before head coach Richard Martinez was suspended Feb. 3 amid allegations he was using bullying tactics on his team – the suspension was lifted within hours after the Sundevils lost a 63-62 decision to Bernalillo two days later.

The Hilltoppers (2-22 overall, 1-6 in 2-4A) were officially eliminated from contention for a district title with a loss early last week to Santa Fe. Los Alamos trailed by as much as 20-7 early in the second quarter, that coming after a 9-0 Sundevil run starting late in the first quarter.

Then, after Archuleta’s and Veenis’ quick buckets, Los Alamos got right back into the contest.

Unfortunately, except for a couple of mini runs late, that would be about the only time the Hilltoppers would make much of a dent in the Sundevils’ advantage.

Los Alamos slipped into a hole in the first half partially by struggling to get out to challenge Española Valley’s perimeter shooters. Española Valley guard Elias Archuleta hit a pair of 3-pointers, both of them uncontested, in the first half and Miguel Salazar and DeeJay Curtis also connected from beyond the circle.

Curtis led all scorers in the ballgame with 13 points

Veenis finished with 12 points for Los Alamos, which has just one game left on the regular season, that set for Wednesday at Capital.