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It was one of the best offensive performances of the season for the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team in its District 2-4A opener Wednesday night.
But, despite a red hot shooting night by the Hilltoppers, it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the even hotter Bernalillo Spartans.
The Spartans had six players connect from 3-point range in the game, including four big 3s in the second quarter to break the game open.
Bernalillo dropped in 25 second quarter points as it routed Los Alamos at Griffith Gymnasium, 74-51.
Los Alamos connected on 22 of 44 attempts from the floor, but Bernalillo was even better, hitting 29 of 50, including nailing 9 3-pointers.
After a good start to the contest defensively for the Hilltoppers, the Spartans started to stretch out their offensive formation. Along with some good passing around the perimeter, the Spartans also used the driving ability of guard Tristan Arnett to full effect.
As the first half wore on, Los Alamos was relegated to picking its poison on defense.
“We knew we had to do that,” Spartan head coach Terry Darnell said. “They play a very good shell defense. They play solid, so we had to move them around to get some easy buckets.”
Los Alamos (1-16 overall, 0-1 in 2-4A) had high hopes going into Wednesday’s contest of erasing a rough nondistrict season.
Hilltopper Skyler Veenis led Los Alamos’ offense, dropping in 16 points, hitting 7 of 14 attempts from the field.
Los Alamos head coach Fil Dominguez said he liked what he saw on the offensive end, but on the defensive side of the court, where Los Alamos’ identity resides, he was unimpressed with the performance, particularly the team’s perimeter defense.
“These guys, they shot the lights out,” Dominguez said of Bernalillo. “Terry says his guys play basketball all year long. That’s what they do…we have a lot of younger guys, but giving up 74 points is unacceptable in our program.”
Los Alamos trailed by just three points at the end of one quarter.
Bernalillo, which excels at playing a fast-paced game, tried to get its running game going early, but Los Alamos showed it was up to the task throughout the opening quarter.
Veenis and Simon Heath both connected on jumpers and driving layups to the basket and Los Alamos had a chance to tie the score with time winding down.
But Los Alamos’ spirited play in the first quarter didn’t carry over to the second quarter. The Spartans (12-6, 1-0) started the second quarter on a quick 8-2 scoring run with Arnett slashing into the lane for two points and Aaron Montoya connecting from beyond the circle.
On the other end, Bernalillo started attacking Los Alamos near the timeline and forcing turnovers. Alan Rodriguez had four steals in the first half, all of which got converted into points for the Spartans.
Veenis and Heath came up with 15 points between them in the first half, but Los Alamos was getting no offensive production from its bench — the Hilltopper bench was shut out until the third quarter.
Brandon Saiz, arguably the top player in 2-4A, finished with a game-high 18 points, hitting 3 of 7 attempts from beyond the arc. Arnett was a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor to finish with 14 points.
Travis Richins had 9 points for Los Alamos and Heath and Franklin Archuleta both finished with 8 points.