Girls basketball: LA heads to Four Corners to take on two top AAAA teams

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By Mike Cote

This weekend could be a full one for the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team. Players are planning on getting some Christmas shopping in, holding a Secret Santa session and maybe even catching a flick.
Oh, and they’ll play some hoops as well.
The Hilltoppers are set to embark on a four-day road trip to the Four Corners area, where they will play three District 1AAAA teams, including two of the top-rated teams in the state.
Friday, Los Alamos will take on the fourth-ranked Piedra Vista Panthers. Saturday, it will face off against Aztec, then, following Sunday’s off-day, will meet up with the top-rated team in the state, the Kirtland Central Broncos.
With three games in four days scheduled in the Farmington area, Hilltopper head coach Tarah Logan didn’t see any sense in driving back Saturday night or Sunday then heading right back Monday morning. Instead, the team will stay over Sunday.
Los Alamos will likely need all the rest it can get, particularly with Piedra Vista and Kirtland Central looming.
The Hilltoppers have been off since last Saturday when they lost to the Del Valle (El Paso, Texas) Conquistadors in the final round of the Joe Armijo Invitational. The Hilltoppers lost all three of their tournament games last weekend.
Logan said turnovers were a big issue all last weekend, so the focus in practice this week was crisp passing and better communication.
“This weekend, our goal is to work on the fundamental things,” Logan said. “If we get rid of half our turnovers, we’d be right there with everyone else.”
Los Alamos will likely see this weekend if its extra work taking care of the rock has paid off. Piedra Vista is a quick, athletic bunch which likes to push the pace, while Kirtland Central is arguably the best turnover-producing program the state has ever seen.
Piedra Vista’s record had been listed as 9-0 earlier this week, but Piedra Vista head coach Mike Christie said the New Mexico Activities Association forced the team to forfeit its first eight wins — the Panthers are appealing the NMAA’s decision — and is currently 1-8 on the season.
Aztec, about which little is known, has been blown out by both Gallup and Miyamura.
Kirtland Central, meanwhile, has started the season as it usually does, with solid wins over solid opponents, Window Rock, Ariz., Clovis and Gallup.
The Broncos are the reigning Class 4A champions and have won 17 state titles in school history, more than any other team.
Logan said Los Alamos (1-5) should be at full strength this week. Senior Kamille Chavez, who started at the guard spot for Los Alamos’ first two games but suffered a concussion against St. Michael’s Nov. 27, was back and practicing at full speed this week.