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SANTA FE — With under a minute remaining in the third quarter, the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team was very much in the game against the Santa Fe Demons.
Then the wheels fell off.
With the third quarter winding down, Los Alamos trailed by just 7 points to Santa Fe Saturday night at Toby Roybal Memorial Gymnasium. But Santa Fe went on a 9-2 run extending into the early part of the fourth quarter to take control of the contest.
A pair of Los Alamos 3-pointers by Seth Drop and Skyler Veenis at the 6:11 and 5:21 mark cut the Santa Fe lead back down to 8 points, but that would be Los Alamos’ last hurrah in the game.
Santa Fe outscored Los Alamos 20-5 in the final 5 minutes to roll to a 70-47 win in the District 2-4A contest.
Los Alamos finished the second half with 18 team fouls — despite the whopping total called on the Hilltoppers, only a few of those calls, most of them coming after the score got out of hand, were dubious. Santa Fe was into the double-bonus just 12 seconds into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, the Demons (9-10 overall, 1-1 in district) went to the foul line 20 times and converted 14 of those shots.
For Los Alamos, starters Travis Richins, Simon Heath and Xavier Dennison fouled out in a span of 1:38, all before the halfway point of the fourth quarter.
Saturday’s loss puts the Hilltoppers (1-17, 0-2 in 2-4A) in a big early district hole, particularly heading into this week. The Hilltoppers host Española Valley (14-6, 1-1) tonight, then travel to Capital (15-3, 1-0) on Friday, two of the three teams that are expected to duke it out for this year’s district title.
Capital’s Jaguars and Española Valley’s Sundevils met in the other 2-4A game scheduled Saturday, with the Jaguars prevailing 50-48 in Santa Fe.
Española Valley led that game most of the way, but Capital outscored Española Valley 21-12 in the fourth quarter.
Tonight’s game could be a high-scoring affair. Española Valley is the third-highest scoring team in Class 4A, but is allowing the fourth-most points on the other end. Unfortunately, the Hilltopper defense hasn’t been a lot better this season — it’s ranked 20th out of 26 teams — while the Hilltopper offense has generated the fewest points in 4A.
Saturday, Veenis finished with 11 points and Drop, who hurt his left leg in warm-ups and had to be helped to the bench, but came into the game midway through the first quarter, finished with 10 points. Tyler Van Anne had 6 points coming off the bench.
Santa Fe was paced by Wyatt Honstein, who had 20 points. Tres Chaires, Santa Fe’s leading scorer on the season, had 19 points and Elliot Nicholas finished with 13.
The Hilltoppers lost to the Bernalillo Spartans to open their 2-4A season Wednesday night, 71-54.