Boys basketball: Toppers fall to Jaguars Monday night in Santa Fe

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By The Staff

Things got a little hairier for the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team following Monday’s loss.

Los Alamos struggled during the middle quarters during Monday’ night’s make-up contest against the Capital Jaguars. Los Alamos was outscored 16-9 in the second quarter and 19-14 in the third quarter.

While the Hilltoppers tried to make a comeback in the fourth quarter, the push wasn’t enough and the Hilltoppers fell 56-52 to the Jaguars.

The loss now means the Hilltoppers have a tenuous hold on second place in the District 2AAAA race. The Jaguars, who have had an uneven regular season so far, are just a half-game behind the Hilltoppers, who trail front-running Española Valley.

Capital guard Reece Goodman, its main scoring threat, pumped in 28 points Monday night to lead all scorers.

Los Alamos head coach Alan Kirk said going into the game that his defense would need to slow Goodman down.

“We didn’t, and he hit some nice shots,” Kirk said. “We let him get away. He had 10 points in the third quarter and 8 in the second. Those hurt us.”

In the first three quarters, Los Alamos tried to use a zone defense to slow down Goodman. In the fourth, it switched to a man-to-man defense and that seemed to help as it attempted a comeback from an 11-point deficit.

Los Alamos (15-7 overall, 3-2 in 2AAAA) has just three games left in its regular season, including meetings with Española Valley Feb. 17 and Capital Feb. 20, its final two games of the season.

The way the district standings are currently set, Los Alamos would have to win out and, in the Feb. 20 game, would probably need to win by at least 5 points to earn a tiebreaker for second place — Española Valley needs to win just two more district games to clinch the regular season title — and host a potential 2AAAA tournament semifinal game against Capital. Otherwise, Los Alamos might have to host the quarterfinal game and then travel to Capital (9-10 overall, 2-2 in 2AAAA) for the tournament semifinal.

Should Capital win out — it is already finished with Española Valley, which handed it both its district losses — it would clinch the runner-up spot outright.

Also for the Jaguars, Johnny Rodriguez finished with 14 points.

Hilltopper center Alex Kirk led his team with 23 points. Kirk also grabbed 8 rebounds, had 4 assists and 4 blocks.

Wade Archuleta had 9 points Monday night and Zach Parks finished with 8. Parks had 5 assists and Austin Wolstein finished with 8 rebounds.

Monday’s game was originally scheduled for Feb. 3 but was postponed due to heavy snows that day.

Coach Kirk said he didn’t feel his team had the focus it needed heading into Monday’s game.

“We weren’t mentally prepared to play them,” he said. “They put tough defense on Austin and Zach and they forced a lot of turnovers that led to points in transition.”

Los Alamos turned the ball over 18 times and Capital converted 13 layups during the game, which Kirk said was way too many for his team to allow.

The Hilltoppers have cooled off considerably since the start of the season. They opened the season with a 10-2 record but have gone just 5-5 since and have lost two of their last three contests.