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LAHS basketball rolls past St. Michael’s

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By Phil Scherer

Heading into Friday night’s home opener for the Los Alamos High School boys basketball team, much uncertainty surrounded the team. Earlier in the week, Bernalillo High School blew out the Hilltoppers 70-39, with many of LAHS’ leaders playing minimum roles.

Even more uncertainty arose during pregame warm-ups Friday, as senior Jack Stewart was nowhere to be found inside Griffith Gymnasium, and a member of the coaching staff confirmed he was no longer with the team.

Despite the questions surrounding the team, LAHS played one of its most complete games in recent memory, defeating St. Michael’s High School 73-61.

“I thought they played with a lot of intensity,” LAHS head coach Michael Kluk said.

From the very beginning, the Hilltoppers came out firing, as guards Ramon Roybal and Antonio Trujillo had open looks from the perimeter that they were not afraid to take. Roybal played especially well in the opening quarter, knocking down three shots and scoring 7 quick points.

Trujillo provided the game’s top highlight at the end of the first quarter, knocking down a half-court buzzer beater that gave the Hilltoppers a 17-14 lead after one quarter.

Freeing up those shots on the outside were forwards Ivan Balakirev and Michael Naranjo, who Kluk praised for their efforts.

“They really didn’t have anything that could handle Ivan and Michael inside that much,” Kluk said.

Trujillo’s buzzer-beater awakened the Hilltopper offense even more, as the team was red-hot from three-point range in the second quarter.

Roybal hit a pair of deep balls and Campos and Trujillo added one apiece. It was too much for St. Michael’s to handle, as LAHS took a 44-28 lead into halftime, thanks in part to Trujillo’s second buzzer-beater of the game.

In the second half, the defense of the Hilltoppers played well and was able to limit the Horsemen without fouling. LAHS never allowed St. Michael’s to reach the bonus in the second half, keeping them off the foul line.

Trujillo continued to dominate for the Hilltoppers, scoring 13 points in the second half, and never allowing St. Michael’s to gain any momentum.

LAHS cruised to a 73-61 victory in its only home game before the new year.

Trujillo led all scorers with 23 points, and Roybal added 17 of his own.

Naranjo posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Gavin Campos also scored 10 points for LAHS.

The win improves the LAHS record to 2-1. The Hilltoppers will continue its season this week at the Belen Hub City Tournament, which will tip off Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.