Boys basketball: LA drops first road contest at St. Mike's, 55-42

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By Mike Cote

SANTA FE — When things were starting to heat up, the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys varsity basketball team was starting to get hot under the collar.Los Alamos trailed the entire night against St. Michael’s, but was clawing its way back into the game in the fourth quarter. A 3-pointer by Mike Matteson cut what was a 16-point lead early in the third quarter down to just six with 7:07 left to play.But Los Alamos was slapped with a pair of technical fouls and turned the ball over seven times in the final seven minutes as it fell to St. Michael’s Horsemen 55-42 at Perez-Shelley Gymnasium Tuesday.The Hilltoppers had been expressing their frustration with the officiating throughout the contest, sometimes demonstratively, before guard Ben Allen, after picking up his fifth foul — a relatively minor foul considering some of what was being let go Tuesday — slapped his hands against the floor, drawing the technical.The technical gave the Horsemen four free throws, which were sunk cleanly by St. Michael’s Marcus Martinez, turning a close game back into a near-rout.Later in the fourth, Los Alamos would be called for another technical for having six men on the court, that call coming during a reach-in foul whistled on Alex Kirk.“We lost our composure,” Hilltopper head coach Alan Kirk said. “We have a young team, and sometimes that happens when you’re dealing with a young group.”Kirk said his team started to lose its composure early in the ballgame, long before the technicals were called.It was an uphill battle for the Hilltoppers (2-1) all night against the two-time defending state Class AAA champion Horsemen, who were playing their season opener Tuesday.After both teams started off without a score for more than three minutes, St. Michael’s went on an impressive 11-0 run, sparked by hard-driving guard Jordan Romero.Romero, who led St. Michael’s with 19 points, nailed his first six shots of the game, and just missed on his seventh, a 3-pointer that just rimmed out toward the end of the first half.While Romero was relatively quiet in the second half — he scored just four points after the half — the St. Michael’s advantage held up for the bulk of the half, increasing to 14 with just 13 seconds remaining with Martinez’s 3-pointer.St. Michael’s would eventually move ahead by 16 before the Hilltoppers started working their way back into the game.The ’Toppers used a couple of mini-runs in the third quarter to cut the Horsemen lead down to seven going into the final frame. Doug Hardy hit a baseline jumper from about 14 feet to cut the Horsemen advantage to 39-32 with :06 remaining in the quarter.Matteson’s 3 made it 41-35 with 7:07 left to play, but Los Alamos would never get any closer.Los Alamos struggled to establish a balanced-scoring game Tuesday. Outside of Alex Kirk’s 21 points — he’s scored better than 20 points in each of the team’s three games — no other Hilltopper finished with more than four.Kirk was 7 of 17 from the floor Tuesday, and was also the only Hilltopper to get to the free throw line. He was 7 of 12 from the stripe.Los Alamos, as it had in both its contests against Kirtland Central and Santa Fe last week, set itself up with some decent looks, but was unable to convert. Los Alamos missed five layups in the first half alone.Kirk also finished the night with eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Coach Kirk said he wasn’t very happy with his team’s rebounding performance, despite having a marked size advantage over the Horsemen, whose tallest player is listed at 6-2.Martin Romero, who had just four points on 2 of 8 shooting, made his contributions on defense, stripping Jordan Romero four times and starting fast breaks. Romero, who also deflected four passes Tuesday, picked Jordan Romero’s pocket twice in the third quarter, the second getting the Hilltoppers to within 11 points at the 2:04 mark.Ben Allen had three steals, and Nik Allen finished with two steals.Los Alamos will head up to the Four Corners area this weekend to take on a pair of opponents there. Los Alamos faces Piedra Vista Friday night, followed by a Saturday afternoon contest against Farmington.

St. Michael’s 55, Los Alamos 42LA (2-1), SM (1-0)

  1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q Tot.Los Alamos   6 10 16 10 42St. Michael’s 18 12 9 16 55

Los Alamos: Ben Allen 2-8 0-0 4, Michael Helland 0-3 0-0 0, Nik Allen 1-5 0-0 2, Martin Romero 2-8 0-0 4, Alex Kirk 7-17 7-12 21, Alan Trujillo 0-0 0-0 0, Doug Hardy 2-5 0-0 4, Chris Hejde 1-4 0-0 2, Matt Leyba 0-0 0-0 0, Mike Matteson 1-1 0-0 3, Jack Russell 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 17-52 7-12 42.

St. Michael’s: Jordan Romero 8-13 1-2 19, Marcus Martinez 4-6 4-4 14, Erik Geyer 4-9 5-7 13, Michael Yardman-Frank 1-3 0-0 2, Leo D’Amour 2-8 1-2 5, Ryan Bustamante 0-0 0-0 0, Elijah Garcia 0-2 2-2 2, Justin Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Jeremy Romero 0-0 0-0 0, Gabriel Ortiz 0-0 0-0 0, Domingo Ortiz 0-0 0-4 0, Patrick Griswold 0-0 0-0 0, Jeff Najjar 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-43 13-21 55.

3-Point FG: Los Alamos 1-12 (Matteson 1-1, B. Allen 0-4, N. Allen 0-2, Romero 0-2, Kirk 0-2, Hejde 0-1), St. Michael’s 4-13 (Martinez 2-2, Jordan Romero 2-6, D’Amour 0-2, Yardman-Frank 0-1, Garcia 0-1, Smith 0-1).

Turnovers: Los Alamos 17, St. Michael’s 11.Total fouls: Los Alamos 18, St. Michael’s 12. Fouled out: B. Allen (4th, 1:21).Technicals: LA - B. Allen, bench.