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ALBUQUERQUE — After a dismal offensive first half, the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team got back into its game against the Sandia Matadors in the second half.
Los Alamos, which trailed by as many as 11 points with 2:51 remaining in the second quarter, rallied to take a 46-43 lead with just over two minutes remaining in regulation.
But the Matadors’ Carl Meyer put in a layup bucket with 26.3 seconds left which proved to be the difference in the opening round of the Joe Armijo Invitational. The Matadors prevailed 49-48, putting the Hilltoppers into the loser’s bracket of the tournament, which continues through Saturday at Albuquerque Academy.
Los Alamos fell behind 21-10 in the second quarter to Sandia, which used an aggressive match-up zone and a trapping full-court press to slow the Hilltopper offense to a crawl in the first half. Los Alamos (2-3) managed just four points in the first quarter, all by Thomas Russell, and managed to get off just six shots.
The Hilltoppers hit just four field goals in the first half as they trailed the Matadors (3-3) 23-14 at the break. The Hilltoppers managed to turn their fortunes around in a hurry after the break, however.
Russell, who finished with 16 points, had six points in the third quarter, as did Nate Carver, who buried a pair of 3-pointers, the second of which cut the Matadors’ lead down to one point.
Sandia got away from its pressure defense late in the second quarter and didn’t reinstitute it for the rest of the game, which aided Los Alamos in its comeback attempt.
With 42.5 seconds left, Nick Baker slashed through the lane for a layup, giving Los Alamos a 48-47 edge, but Meyer, who hadn’t taken a shot the entire game, returned the favor on the other end.
Sandia guard Isaiah Rogers led all scorers with 25 points, including 9 points in the third quarter. Carver had 13 and Baker finished with seven for Los Alamos.