Boys basketball: LA drops two at Poe Corn

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By The Staff

Several miscues in the Poe Corn Invitational third-place game Saturday proved to be costly for the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team.

Los Alamos turned the ball over 20 times, many of which were converted into points on the other end, and missed 7 of 11 free throws as it fell to District 2AAAA rival Capital 69-65 in overtime Saturday.

The loss came just a day after the Hilltoppers dropped a semifinal contest to the Goddard Rockets after seemingly having the game under control at the break.

In Thursday’s opening round of the Poe Corn tournament, one of the longest-running tournaments in New Mexico, Los Alamos knocked off Belen 81-71. The tournament is hosted by Roswell High School.

Los Alamos, which travels to the Poe Corn in part to get away from northern New Mexico and its teams, had two other 2AAAA teams make the trip with it this season, as Taos also accepted an invitation this season.

Against Capital’s Jaguars, the Hilltoppers trailed by six with about 90 seconds to go in regulation, but they were able to stage a late-game comeback to force overtime.

But again Los Alamos fell behind quickly in the overtime period and never recovered.

The loss to the Jaguars (7-4) may give them the psychological edge when district play rolls around but doesn’t count in the 2AAAA standings. Los Alamos and Capital meet in their first district game Feb. 4.

It was a rough pair of losses for Los Alamos (10-5), especially after its impressive opening win, its second win of the season over the Eagles (3-3).

“I think we were disappointed that we let (Friday) night get away,” Hilltopper head coach Alan Kirk said, “We were up 12 at the half and we didn’t put them away. We had a chance and we didn’t finish them off.”

Los Alamos missed four makeable field goals in the final seconds against Goddard while trailing by one point.

Hilltopper center Alex Kirk had a monster tournament. After putting in 29 points against Belen, Kirk finished with 30 points and 15 rebounds against Goddard, then put in a 35-point, 20-rebound performance against Capital.

Wade Archuleta finished with five rebounds against Capital, as did Michael Helland. Zach Parks and Jack Russell both picked up three assists, while JR Chalmers handed out a pair of assists.

Daniel Goodman finished with 18 points for the Jaguars, while Isaiah Bustamante had 16 and Jonathan Crespin finished with 13.

Against Goddard, Doug Hardy scored 12 points and Helland added 11 more.

Goddard’s David Vega had 26 points while Ross McClellan and Michael LeBine both finished with 14.

Hardy finished with 18 points against Belen and Helland had 10.

Zach Parks dropped in nine points and gave out six assists while Kirk grabbed 19 boards.

Even in that win, Los Alamos turned the ball over 26 times.