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ALBUQUERQUE – In its quest to finally break into the win column this season, the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team looked like it might have a shot in the final period Thursday night.
Instead, the Mayfield Trojans got some big buckets late to pull away and hold on for the victory at Albuquerque Academy.
Mayfield’s Isaiah Rivera took over the fourth quarter, scoring 13 points to help the Trojans secure a 60-49 victory in the first round of the Joe Armijo Invitational.
It was a teeth-grinding loss for the Hilltoppers, who appeared to have fate on their side when guard Seth Drop nailed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from half-court to end the first half.
But Rivera’s big fourth quarter, combined with Los Alamos center Travis Richins fouling out with 4:38 remaining in regulation on a head-scratching call, were too big of hurdles for the Hilltoppers to overcome.
Hilltopper head coach Fil Dominguez said he saw some things he liked out of his team Thursday, but there is at least one aspect of its game that needs to get better in a hurry.
“We can’t stop a lady in a wheelchair,” Dominguez said of his defense. “Right now, we’re trying to find a defensive stopper.”
It was the third straight game the Hilltoppers (0-7) gave up at least 60 points, a figure that actually doesn’t sound that bad except that the team has also struggled to put points on the board. The 49 points it dropped in Thursday was its best output of the season so far.
Los Alamos was paced by Skyler Veenis, who had 13 points, 6 in the third quarter on a pair of 3s. Veenis also had a good defensive game, coming up with a pair of steals that led to key buckets.
Following Veenis, Franklin Archuleta scored 11, but Richins, who started off the game well, got into early foul trouble and saw limited action the remainder of the first half.
In the second half, Richins picked up a quick, ticky-tack foul and didn’t return until the fourth quarter. He was finally whistled for a foul on Mayfield forward Dominic Carrasco when Carrasco, attempting to draw a foul by going down the lane, appeared to go to the floor of his own accord and lay there for two seconds before Richins was tagged with that foul.
Just before losing Richins, Hilltopper Tyler Van Anne converted on a putback under the rim to cut the Mayfield advantage to 39-38. Mayfield, however, answered with a 9-3 run over the next 3-1/2 minutes to all but ice the contest.
Los Alamos fell into the consolation bracket of the Armijo tournament, where it was scheduled to face the host Academy Chargers this afternoon – results from that game weren’t available as of press time.
Only Rivera got into double-figures for Mayfield (4-4), which earned just its second win over a team from New Mexico.
– it had played mostly teams from the El Paso, Texas, area heading into this tournament.