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The Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team, despite its struggles, had a chance Saturday night to put itself right in the mix of the District 2-4A race.
Unfortunately, the Bernalillo Spartans, and more specifically Carl Herrera, had other plans.
Bernalillo, itself jockeying for position in the 2-4A standings, came out firing in the first half. Bernalillo nailed five first half 3-pointers to open up a big lead and never looked back.
The Spartans prevailed Saturday at Griffith Gymnasium, 63-42.
Along the way, Bernalillo shot a blistering 25 of 41 (61.0 percent) from the floor, missing just eight attempts in each half.
Herrera, who has been Los Alamos’ main nemesis in their two district meetings this season, followed up his 20-point performance in Bernalillo Jan. 22, had 27 points at Griffith Gym.
Herrera himself had five 3s in the game and scored 10 points in the second quarter, keying a big period for his team.
Bernalillo took control of the game in that second quarter, outscoring Los Alamos 18-7.
“They came out and got going early,” Hilltopper head coach Mike Kluk said. “We didn’t do anything to take them out of that groove.”
Los Alamos entered the game just 1-3 in the district season and 2-19 overall, but had it been able to knock off the Spartans (10-13 overall, 3-2 in 2-4A), it would’ve been right there with the rest of the district.
Heading into tonight’s Los Alamos-Santa Fe and Española Valley-Capital district match-ups, Española Valley, Santa Fe and Bernalillo are all tied at 3-2 at the head of the district, while Capital leads Los Alamos by 1-1/2 games for fourth place.
With Saturday’s loss, the Hilltoppers probably don’t have a lot of hope of bouncing back to make a run at the district title. Kluk said the main focus for the Hilltoppers’ final three games is to put themselves in a position where they might be able to make a run in the district tournament later this month.
It was senior night Saturday – Los Alamos still has one more 2-4A home game remaining, but that’s against Española Valley, which usually brings a big crowd, making it tough to have an important ceremony – which means seniors get all the starting nods.
However, Los Alamos was paced by a pair of players off the bench, Skyler Veenis and Sidney Ellis, who had 10 points apiece. Scott Gasway, who got the starting nod Saturday had 9 points, 7 in the first half.
The Hilltoppers didn’t shoot poorly against the Spartans, hitting at a 40.5 percent clip, but nothing close to what was needed against a red-hot offense keyed by Herrera.