• Saunders is top wrestler at Capital

    Lane Saunders had another big outing for the Los Alamos Hilltopper wrestling team his second week out Saturday.
    Saunders, wrestling at 182 pounds, not only grabbed the 182-pound title at Saturday’s Capital Jaguar Invitational, he was also named the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament for the upper-weight classes.
    The Outstanding Wrestler title is one awarded by a vote of the head coaches of participating teams.
    His showing was the highlight of the day for Los Alamos at the Jaguar invitational, which is hosted by the Hilltoppers’ District 2-5A rival.
    Los Alamos nipped the favored Capital team for the district title last season and early projections suggest that they may go head-to-head for that title once again.
    However, the HIlltoppers were too short-handed to make a run at a team title at Capital. The Jaguars, who have many top wrestlers returning from last season’s team, won the tournament title, topping two other solid Class 5A schools, Valencia and Los Lunas.
    In all, 11 teams took part in the tournament.
    Hilltopper head coach Bob Geyer said he’s known his program will be something of a project until district time.

  • Pregame Pep Talk

    Former Los Alamos High School teacher and Hilltopper superfan Gary Houfek chats with the members of the Los Alamos hockey team prior to the team’s game with the Santa Fe Blue Jackets Friday night. That game was the first of the season for the Hilltoppers at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink.

  • 'Toppers earn win at home

    It was a good night on the ice for the Los Alamos Hilltopper hockey team as it opened its home schedule with a victory.
    Los Alamos, which plays in the New Mexico Interscholastic Ice Hockey League, a high-school level league, had its season opener Friday night when it faced off against the Santa Fe Blue Jackets.
    Because the Hilltoppers play on an outdoor rink, as opposed to the rest of the league’s teams, which have indoor ice, they are the last team to get a home game.
    But the Hilltoppers made the most of it Friday.
    Los Alamos, which had won five consecutive games to start the season before a loss last Saturday to Cibola, grabbed a solid 6-4 victory over the Blue Jackets (3-9).
    The Hilltoppers controlled the contest early, going up 3-0 and holding that advantage through a period and a half, but the Blue Jackets scored at about the halfway point of the second period to tighten up the game.
    But Los Alamos responded in a big way, scoring two goals in quick succession just minutes after the Santa Fe goal to blow the game open.
    Today, Los Alamos will host its archrival, Taos, at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink. Game time is set for 11 a.m.
    The Hilltoppers defeated Taos’ Ice Tigers 2-1 in the first game of the season Nov. 8. That game was played in Taos.

  • LA boys knock off T-Wolves

    It took some time, but the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team finally got over the hump.
    Los Alamos earned its first win of the season Friday in the consolation round of the Sandia Prep Invitational tournament. Los Alamos tripped up East Mountain High School, a relatively new Class 4A team from the foothills of the Sandias.
    With that win, the Hilltoppers advanced to play in the fifth-place game of the Sandia Prep tournament Saturday. Results of that game hadn’t been reported as of press time.
    Los Alamos has struggled throughout the early part of the 2014-15 season, dropping five straight before Friday’s win.
    The 46 points scored by Los Alamos was its best offensive output of the season. Going into the game, the Hilltoppers had been held to 32 points or less in each of their previous three contests, including a 54-31 loss in the opening round of the tournament to Las Vegas Robertson, which itself won for the first time with Thursday’s victory.
    East Mountain (2-6) had a chance to tie the game and force overtime Friday, but the Timberwolves’ last second 3-pointer clanged off the back of the iron.
    Friday’s victory was just the third going back to last season and the second for the team under head coach Mike Kluk.

  • LA boys fall in first round to Robertson

    The Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team had turnover trouble in the opening round of the Sandia Prep Invitational tournament Thursday afternoon.
    The Hilltoppers were looking for their first win of the season against a team that was also seeking its first win, the Las Vegas Robertson Cardinals.
    But the Cardinals came out the victor Thursday in Albuquerque. The Cardinals outscored the Hilltoppers 22-9 in the first quarter and never looked back, winning 54-31.
    Los Alamos has struggled early on in the season to find its footing on the offensive end. Los Alamos has only managed to score 40 points once this season and has been held to the low-30s in scoring each of the last three games.
    Hilltopper head coach Mike Kluk said his team had some chances but were not connecting with its shots, then struggled holding on to the ball.
    “I could tell in warm-ups that they were not ready,” Kluk said of the contest. “After halftime the offense performed better and the defense was a bit more intense. We played them even in the second half.”
    The Hilltoppers fell behind big by the break, trailing 39-17. The Hilltopper defense was much better in the third quarter, limiting Robertson (1-4) to just five points. Unfortunately for Los Alamos, it only managed four points in that frame.

  • 'Toppers lose for first time this year

    The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team fell from the ranks of the unbeaten Thursday afternoon in the first round of the Joe Armijo Invitational.
    Los Alamos went up by as many as 10 points in the first half and had chances late in its contest against the Los Lunas Tigers, but the Tigers prevailed in overtime.
    Los Lunas’ Jordan Holland drove down the middle of the lane with one second remaining in overtime to give the Tigers a 61-59 victory Thursday at Albuquerque Academy.
    Just prior to Holland’s bucket, the Hilltoppers had possession, but turned the ball over before getting a shot off.
    It was a disappointing loss for the Hilltoppers, who slipped to 5-1 on the year, after beating a pair of Class 5A opponents just heading into the Los Lunas contest.
    With the loss, Los Alamos goes into the consolation bracket of the tournament. It was scheduled to face West Mesa today — the Class 6A Mustangs (1-4) lost in the opening round to Academy’s Chargers, 44-33.
    Los Alamos and Los Lunas have seen each other several times in the recent past and Los Lunas has generally had Los Alamos’ number.
    Thursday, the Hilltoppers were paced by Amber Logan. Logan, who had a monster game against Hope Christian, was again effective from the outside Thursday.

  • 'Topper hockey will host Santa Fe in home opener

    The Los Alamos Hilltopper hockey team ended its unbeaten streak just ahead of this weekend’s home opener.
    Los Alamos will finally get its home season going Friday when it takes on the Santa Fe Blue Jackets. Los Alamos, which plays at the county’s outdoor arena, must wait for conditions to be suitable for playing before it can get its season going and, as such, is almost invariably the last team to get its home schedule started.
    Friday’s game is set for 8 p.m.
    Prior to the game, however, there will be a ceremony honoring former Hilltopper head coach Craig Wermer. Wermer was a longtime coach of the team before this season, when he was replaced by his former assistant, Kevin Brake.
    Wermer coached current Hilltopper seniors Hudson Davenhall, Jason Martinez and Trevor Matuszak, throughout the prep careers until this season.
    The Hilltoppers were originally supposed to play three games this weekend at home to get their schedule rolling, but Saturday’s game, against Rio Rancho, was postponed due to standardized testing. That game has tentatively been rescheduled for February.
    Sunday, Los Alamos will host archrival Taos. Game time is 11 a.m.

  • LA teams head to seperate tourneys

    Both the Los Alamos boys and girls basketball teams will have tournaments in Albuquerque starting Thursday.
    Usually, Los Alamos’ boys and girls would be heading to the same tournament this week, but not this season. Los Alamos’ girls will take part in the Joe Armijo Invitational at Albuquerque Academy, while, this season, the Hilltopper boys will go to the Sandia Prep Sundevil Invitational.
    Los Alamos’ boys will be hoping to turn things around, at least a little bit, after a 0-4 start. Los Alamos had shown some flashes in two of those ballgames, but those flashes were few and far between in big losses to Valencia and, most recently, St. Michael’s.
    Hilltopper head coach Mike Kluk said his young team has been shying away from physicality down low and has been paying the price for it. St. Michael’s, which is by no means a big squad, dominated in the paint in its 56-32 victory Friday night at Griffith Gymnasium.
    Thursday, Los Alamos will play Las Vegas Robertson in the opening round of the Sandia Prep tournament. That game is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday.
    Prior to this year, Los Alamos had been usual guests to Academy’s home tournament. Interestingly, though, another team that has made fairly regular appearances at Academy, Española Valley, also will be playing at Sandia Prep.

  • 'Toppers hang on vs. Hope Christian

    It was a game of misses for both teams Tuesday night at Griffith Gymnasium.
    Fortunately for the Los Alamos Hilltoppers, though, they made just enough plays when they needed them.
    Los Alamos was playing perhaps its toughest opponent of the season to date at home Tuesday when it took on the Hope Christian Huskies. Hope Christian, from Albuquerque, is among the most athlete-rich small-schools in the state and has had plenty of success in girls basketball.
    Hope Christian had the big height advantage inside and dominated in the boards in the first half, but Los Alamos was able to keep the Huskies in check on the other end.
    Los Alamos led by as many as 13 points midway through the fourth quarter, but the Huskies came back to make things interesting before the Hilltoppers put the game away, winning 57-52.
    It was tougher to earn than expected, but it was Los Alamos’ fifth straight win to start the year.
    Los Alamos had plenty of chances to put the contest away, but was hampered by some unfortunately-timed turnovers and more struggles from the foul line. Los Alamos shot a dreadful 8 of 22 at the stripe Tuesday.

  • LA takes fourth in its season opener

    The Los Alamos Hilltopper wrestling team went 4-1 in duals contests to open its season Saturday.
    Los Alamos finished second in the four-team pool it was in at Saturday’s Valencia Invitational. Then, in a three-way battle for fourth place in the tournament following the pool round, Los Alamos knocked off both its competitors.
    It was a solid start to the season for the Hilltoppers, who have several solid returning wrestlers and some others it’s hoping to bring along by year’s end.
    For the Hilltoppers, veterans John Dermer, Mateo Cardiel and Lane Saunders, a state champion last season, went undefeated on the weekend.
    In its pool, Los Alamos finished behind Los Lunas. After handily defeating longtime foe and district opponent Española Valley and topping Las Cruces Centennial, which is a Class 5A school, Los Alamos dropped a tough match to the Tigers.
    In their 10 common weight classes, the Hilltoppers and the Tigers evenly split bouts, but the Hilltoppers gave up four forfeits at vacant weight classes that proved to be the difference.