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  • Prep boys basketball: LA outlasts Valencia in opener

    Mike Kluk said that not many teams would match up in size with his Los Alamos boys basketball team.
    Tuesday was a good indicator of that, as the Hilltoppers outmuscled a small Valencia team to a 44-37 season-opening win at Griffith Gym.
    “The bigs did a good job passing in the interior,” Kluk said. “We had some first game jitters. But it was a good first game for us against an opponent that we should beat. We got to practice and see a lot of things.”
    After Valencia got off to an 8-0 start and a 14-9 first-quarter lead, Los Alamos dominated the second quarter defensively, not allowing a single point in the frame en route to taking a 21-14 lead at halftime.  
    “We got on a little streak there and got a big enough lead to hold without giving it away,” Kluk said. “The boys did a pretty good job controlling the ball and ran a lot of clock toward the end. We were trying not to force it but at the same time we were still trying to score.”
    The Hilltoppers continued the pressure on defense in the second half, holding the Jaguars scoreless until the 4:34 mark of the third quarter. Michael Naranjo led Los Almaos with seven points in the third quarter. A Cade Gastway bucket with five seconds left gave the Hilltoppers a 33-24 lead going into the final quarter.

  • Pajarito delays opening day

    Another ski hill in northern New Mexico falls victim to the warm-weather bug.

    Pajarito Ski Area announced Wednesday that it will delay its winter season to Dec. 3. The ski area was originally scheduled to conduct its opening day on Saturday.  

    Pajarito joins Sipapu Ski Resort, Taos Ski Valley and Ski Santa Fe on the list of ski areas that have had to postpone its winter season due to record-breaking warm weather during late fall and early winter.

    "Although we’ve had a successful snowmaking push and picked up four feet of snow Monday night, we have made the difficult decision to delay Pajarito’s opening," said Pajarito general manager Tom Long. "We’ve experienced previous seasons that had plenty of early snow and other seasons when winter weather was slow to materialize but it ended up being a fantastic season. With the help of Mother Nature, coupled with our sophisticated snowmaking system, we will be able to provide a great ski season for our guests."

    Snowmaking at Pajarito began Nov. 17 and the ski area had been successful in producing snow but was banking on cooler weather throughout the week to help the process.  

  • LA girl’s hoops falls in opener

    Result-wise, it wasn’t the start the Los Alamos girl’s basketball team wanted.
    But there were some areas of optimism in the Hilltoppers 38-32 season-opening loss to Farmington on Saturday at Griffith Gym.
    Before the season opener, Los Alamos (0-1) first-year coach Josh Archuleta said the strength for this season’s Hilltoppers is team defense. And that was evident in the 38 points allowed. But on offense, Los Alamos appeared to be stale at times and didn’t capitalize on open shots.
    The Hilltoppers perimeter defense was solid, only allowing one Farmington (1-0) triple, which came in the first quarter.  
    Farmington took a 32-25 lead after four quick buckets early in the fourth quarter. The Hilltoppers didn’t score in the final quarter until the 1:25 mark and strung together five more points in the final minute of the game. But the comeback effort was too late, as the Scorpions went up by 13, after starting the quarter on a 14-0 run.
    After a slow opening half, Los Alamos got it going by outscoring the Scorpions 10-3 in the third quarter and taking a 25-24 lead into the final stanza.   
    The Hilltoppers struggled to execute on offense in the second quarter, only scoring six points in the frame, as Farmington took a 21-15 lead into halftime.

  • Rees sends LA hockey past Taos

    Starting the season against a common opponent didn’t faze the Los Alamos hockey team.
    The Hilltoppers began their 2016-17 campaign with a 2-1 win against rival Taos on Friday at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink.
    Los Alamos maintained the North Star trophy, which is won by the winner of each Los Alamos-Taos match up. Friday was the second-straight win for the Hilltoppers against the Ice Tigers.
    Los Alamos made the most out of a five-minute power play with 1:55 left in the final period, as Ben Rees capitalized from a rebound and scored the game-winning goal.   
    The Hilltoppers evened the game three minutes into the second period, after a face off puck leaked to toward the center of the Taos zone and Griffin Matuszak ripped a shot into the net.
    In the beginning of the second period, Los Alamos goalie Zach Brown kept the Ice Tigers from increasing their advantage with four key saves. Brown finished with a stellar 32 saves.  
    Taos opened the scoring when Justin Lucero found himself behind the Los Alamos defense and converted the breakaway goal with 3:05 left in the first period.

     
     

  • Experience leads LA to 2016-17 season

    The last two seasons, the Los Alamos boy's basketball team was enforced by a plethora of young players.

    Those players are now juniors and seniors and they are the leaders of the program.

    The Hilltoppers begin their 2016-17 season by hosting Valencia at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Griffith Gym.

    "We've been telling them since last summer that it's their program now," said Mike Kluk, who's entering his fourth season as Los Alamos coach. "It's critical that they step up and own it. They're all upperclassmen now and we're starting see a bit more maturity compared to last year."

    Every player on the Los Alamos roster this season is either a senior or junior.

    One of the experienced pieces that the Hilltoppers will rely on in 2016-17 is 6-foot junior guard Jack Stewart.  

    "There's been a lot of potential these past couple seasons and we're just looking to build off of that," Stewart said. "We're all maturing so I think it's going to be good this season."

    Kluk said he implemented a new offensive scheme during the offseason. And the team has adapted well to the new offense, according to Kluk.

  • LA hockey opens Friday night

    The Los Alamos hockey team will open its 2016-17 season by hosting Taos at 6:45 p.m. Friday at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink. Friday’s season-opening game will also be a battle for the North Star trophy, which is given to the winner of each Los Alamos-Taos matchup. The Hilltoppers currently hold the trophy, as they defeated the Ice Tigers in their previous meeting during the 2015-16 season. The season opener can also be heard on the radio on KRSN 1490AM.

  • Prep girl's basketball: New LA era begins Saturday

    Not only will the Los Alamos girl’s basketball team begin the season with a new coach, it will also have a new leader on the court.
    The Hilltoppers tip-off their 2016-17 campaign by hosting Farmington at 5 p.m. Saturday at Griffith Gym.
    “It’s going to be tough to get off to a strong start but it is important,” said Los Alamos first-year coach Josh Archuleta. “Usually that first game will set the tone for the season. But I’ve been on both sides of the coin. I’ve lost the first game before but came stronger. And I’ve also won the first game but didn’t come back so strong.”
    Archuleta inherits a squad that includes seven seniors and three juniors. Although most of those seniors and juniors have been on the varsity level before, they haven’t seen a lot of meaningful minutes, as Los Alamos graduated four key players from last year’s team.  
    “They graduated some key players last year so they have some big shoes to fill,” Archuleta said. “We have one girl (Ashley Logan) that’s coming up with true varsity experience and that’s gotten several minutes. So these girls have something to prove and they want to show that it’s their turn to shine.”
    “I see us surprising a lot of people.”

  • ’Toppers conclude fall season

    No blue trophies for Los Alamos fall prep sports in 2016, but it was still a memorable season.
    The Hilltoppers cross country, soccer, football and volleyball teams concluded their respective seasons last weekend.
    It wasn’t the best of starts for the Los Alamos girl’s cross country team in 2016, as the Hilltoppers began the season without their top returner Zoe Hemez. Los Alamos was led by eighth-grader Lidia Appell for the first half of the season, before Hemez made her 2016 debut on Oct. 7.
    From there, the Hilltoppers began to really be a part of the contenders for the reminder of the season. On Oct. 21, Los Alamos hosted its home meet and finished a couple spots behind district foe Albuquerque Academy. The following week, the Hilltoppers inched closer but the Chargers still came out victorious in the District 2-5A meet.  
    The closest Los Alamos got to Academy was in last weekend’s state championships. Led by a second-place finish from Hemez, a fifth-place finish from Appell and a 10th-place finish from Marin Kelly, the Hilltoppers finished six points behind Class 5A champion Academy.
    The Chargers triumph ended a streak of seven-straight state titles for Los Alamos.  But the Hilltoppers return all their state runners, making it easy to forget the defeat and look forward towards the future.

  • Toppers swimming, diving set for 2016-17

    On Saturday, the Los Alamos swimming teams will get a better idea to know if they have the viable pieces to replace Sarah Lott and Nathan Scrimshaw.
    The Hilltoppers will compete in the Peter B. Barney Memorial Relays in Albuquerque to begin its 2016-17 season.
    The Los Alamos girls return an experienced squad that helped them earn a fourth place finish in last season’s state championships.
    Returning for Los Alamos is senior Jessica Moore who was part of last season’s 200-yard medley team that finished third at state. Moore expects to have another stellar season in the 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard individual medley.
    Junior Sarah Shiina also returns for the Hilltoppers. Last season at state, Shiina finished 13th in the 100-yard butterfly and was the third of the 200-yard medley team.
    Senior Kaitlin Bennett will look to make an impact for Los Alamos in the 50-yard freestyle, where she advanced to the finals in state. She was sixth at state in the 100-yard freestyle and was part of the 200-yard freestyle relay.
     Sophomore Jillian Bennett, who will look to provide some depth for the Hilltoppers, was the first leg of the state fifth place 200-yard freestyle relay.
    Los Alamos will look to youth divers to replace Elizabeth Lockhart on the one-meter board.

  • Prep soccer: Topper girls eliminated in semis

    Two quick goals gave Los Alamos hope, but Grace Romero eventually sealed the Hilltoppers season.

    The fourth-seeded Hilltoppers lost to No. 1 St. Pius 3-2 on Friday in the Class 5A state tournament semifinals.

    With eight minutes left to play, Romero found herself behind the Los Alamos defense and tucked away the shot to the near post to send the Sartans to their fourth-consecutive state championship appearance.

    After St. Pius opened the scoring in the first half and added another goal in the 48th minute, the Hilltoppers came roaring back. Los Alamos sophomore Katie Hopkins cut the Sartans lead with a 30-yard shot that skidded past the St. Pius goalkeeper in the 56th minute.

    And four minutes later, Abby Schmalz put in a free kick towards the far post where Alissia Haagenstad was there to equalize for the Hilltoppers. Los Alamos kept attempting for another equalizer after Romero's goal, but to no avail. 

    St. Pius went on to lose in overtime in the championship game against Albuquerque Academy.

    Los Alamos finished the season at 16-6 overall, marking the second-consecutive season with 16 wins for second-year coach Gary Ahlers.