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Griffith Gymnasium will play host to both the District 2-4A boys and girls quarterfinal tournament games tonight.
The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team is hosting the Bernalillo Spartans at 5 p.m. while the Hilltopper boys will take on the Española Valley Sundevils at 7:30 p.m.
Both Los Alamos teams finished as the No. 3 seed in the district tournament. They will both need to win three games to pick up the 2-4A championship and, more importantly, the accompanying automatic berth into the Class 4A playoffs.
Heading into the district tournaments, both Hilltopper teams can make solid cases for an invitation into the 2-4A playoffs, but neither is a sure thing at this point.
Los Alamos’ girls currently sport a record of 12-14, one of the better won-loss marks among the sub-.500 teams in 4A right now, and have a 7-8 record against Class 4A teams, all but one of those losses coming against a team that’s virtually assured of making the playoff field. However, that other loss came against Bernalillo.
Tonight’s game is the rubber-match between Los Alamos and Bernalillo — the Hilltoppers won 49-34 in Los Alamos Jan. 17 and the Spartans won 34-33 in Bernalillo Feb. 3 — and tonight’s winner would take a step not only to securing a playoff spot but possibly to squeezing the other out of the playoff picture altogether.
Bernalillo (13-13 overall, 4-5 in district) has been inconsistent during the 2-4A season. It pulled off one of the major upsets of the regular season, stunning No. 2 Santa Fe Feb. 14 51-42 with the Demons still in the running for the regular season district title. On the flip side, Bernalillo was dropped by Capital 42-40 three days earlier in what was Capital’s only win of 2-4A play.
Los Alamos has also struggled with consistency, particularly of late, although it finished off its regular season on a high note, routing Capital 51-25 at Griffith Gym Feb. 14, snapping a three-game losing streak.
The Hilltopper boys are in much the same position. With a record of 10-16, the Hilltoppers are firmly on the bubble, but a win tonight could go a long way to clinching an at-large bid.
Looking over the 4A boys playoff situation, there will be three or possibly four spots that are in play for bubble teams, assuming there are no major upsets in the class’ district tournaments this week. Los Alamos is right in line for one of those spots but is competing with three or four other teams for inclusion, including Española Valley.
Española Valley, the state champion a year ago and the No. 4 seed in this tournament, needed triple-overtime to defeat No. 5 Santa Fe Monday night, 45-44.
The Hilltoppers and Sundevils have played three times this season, one of those a nondistrict affair at the Joe Armijo Invitational tournament in December. The Hilltoppers have won two of those three meetings, including their signature win of the season, a 56-45 victory in their home finale Feb. 10.
This season, Los Alamos is 6-11 against 4A competition, a mark which will make a good showing in the district tournament of importance for the Hilltoppers.
The Sundevils (10-17, 4-5) will also need a big showing in the 2-4A tournament to secure a berth, but did pull off an upset in its regular season finale, topping second-seeded Bernalillo 58-47 Saturday night.
Here are the schedules for the 2-4A girls and boys tournaments:
(4) Bernalillo def. (5) Capital, final score not reported
Bernalillo at (3) Los Alamos, 5 p.m.
Bernalillo-Los Alamos winner at (2) Santa Fe, 7 p.m.
Thursday’s winner at (1) Española Valley, 7 p.m.
(4) Española Valley 45, (5) Santa Fe 44, 3 OT
Española Valley at (3) Los Alamos, 7:30 p.m.
Española Valley-Los Alamos winner at (2) Bernalillo, 7 p.m.
Thursday’s winner at (1) Capital, 7 p.m.