Boys, girls hoops squads showing promise

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By Mike Cote

So far, Gerry Washburn’s crystal ball has been spot-on.Washburn, head coach of the Los Alamos Hilltopper varsity basketball team, thought his team might take its lumps during the early part of the season, but also that it should improve during that time.With Saturday’s loss at home — the game was originally scheduled for Highland High School in Albuquerque but was switched to Los Alamos when Highland rolled into town as Los Alamos was packing to leave Saturday afternoon — the Hilltoppers now stand at 4-3 with two outings awaiting them.The ’Toppers will face Kirtland Central at home in its next contest, then follow that up with a trip to the Memorial Medical Center Holiday Hoop-la in Las Cruces, where they will face El Paso (Texas) Hanks in the first round Dec. 27.All games in the Hoop-la will be played at the Pan American Center, the home floor of the New Mexico State University Aggies. The tournament runs through Dec. 29.Kirtland Central is one of the most successful girls basketball programs in the nation and El Paso Hanks is highly regarded in and around Marty Robbins’ favorite city.The upside for the young Hilltoppers, who had just two players coming into the season with any significant varsity playing experience, is that they’ll have plenty of time to get ready for each game. They have no games scheduled this week until Kirtland Central arrives, and they will have at least a couple of days to rest up prior to the Hoop-la tournament — because that is Christmas week and because of the travel involved, it’s unlikely Los Alamos will be able to get a lot of meaningful practice time in prior to the start of tournament play.

Boys basketball

The Hilltopper boys will be on the road again, although with the way they’re playing, nobody’s complaining too loudly.Los Alamos won its fourth straight road game out of town — as with the other three, way out of town — Saturday afternoon. Los Alamos traveled to Silver City to take on the Silver Fighting Colts and snagged a 72-64 win.The Hilltoppers held an 11-point advantage after one period and the teams played virtually even the rest of the way.The biggest story coming out of that game was the big man: Alex Kirk posted a triple-double to lead the ’Toppers to the win. Kirk, who is only a sophomore, has been dominant in the early part of the season.In previous ’Topper outings this season, Kirk has been held under 20 points just twice, and in both of those games he found other ways to contribute. At Belen, where Kirk was held to just seven points while getting Belen’s full attention in the paint, he still managed nine assists.At Silver, Kirk put in a season-high 30 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and rejected 10 Colt shots.Also on Saturday, the Allen twins did what the Allen twins do, provide fireworks on both ends of the court. Nik Allen had his second straight big game, scoring 19 points, dishing out six assists and grabbing three steals. Twin brother Ben Allen, who has also been impressive so far this season, had 16 points and grabbed five rebounds.The best thing about the season so far for Hilltopper head coach Alan Kirk is he’s getting good production from a lot of people, which he felt going into the season was exactly what his team needed.In all, six players scored against Silver and eight scored in the previous game against Belen.Los Alamos plays in the Ben Lujan Tournament starting Thursday. See Wednesday’s Monitor for more tournament details.