Hilltopper teams will be busy this weekend

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By Mike Cote

Many and various activities are happening around the sports world this weekend, starting with a couple of different choices tonight.The Los Alamos Hilltopper boys varsity basketball team is in action tonight at Griffith Gymnasium. For basketball fans, this will be the final time to see the Hilltoppers at home until mid-January.Also tonight, the Los Alamos Hilltopper ice hockey team renews a grudge match with the Cibola Cougars.Both of tonight’s contests are scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Junior varsity and C-Team basketball games get underway this afternoon.In swimming action Saturday, the Hilltoppers host the Los Alamos Open. On the court, the Hilltopper girls will face rival Pojoaque at Ben Lujan Gymnasium. On the ice, the Hilltoppers meet up with Rio Rancho Saturday morning.

Swimming and diving

The Hilltopper swimming and diving team will get back to business in earnest Saturday when it hosts the Los Alamos Open Saturday at the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center.This will be just Los Alamos’ second meet of the season. It heads into Saturday’s meet coming off a surprise win at the Peter B. Barney Relays Nov. 17.With a fair contingent missing off its boys squad, so much so that it had to sit out three relays, Los Alamos still picked up the overall team trophy. The meet, which combined both the boys and girls results to determine the winner, saw the Hilltopper boys place fifth and the girls cruise to a win.Los Alamos will have a solid lineup slated for Saturday’s meet. Lydia Wermer will kick off the swimming competition in the girls 200-yard freestyle, an event where she’s recorded a 2:07.55.Sammi Kao, who had a huge showing at the Barney Relays, will highlight the girls 100 butterfly — her best time in the event is a 1:02.07, and Kara Leasure will take part in the 500 freestyle, where she’s previously recorded a 5:24.00.For the Hilltopper boys, freshman Peter Song will go in the 500 freestyle, a race where he’s recorded a 5:56.46.Dylan Lake, who is coming off a solid outing at the relays, will take part in the 100 breaststroke and the 200 individual medley.In the diving competition, Lisa Ann Hendricks, Lauren Bucklin and Emily Tencate will go for the ’Topper girls, while Dacotah Hofer will compete for the ’Topper boys.The diving portion of the competition is scheduled for events eight and nine.Approximately 12 teams will compete in Saturday’s open, including a solid La Cueva squad and a good St. Michael’s team. Farmington, Piedra Vista, Socorro, Los Lunas and Taos are also among teams that are scheduled to make an appearance Saturday.Also tonight, the boys and girls will be hosting a spaghetti dinner at the Los Alamos High School Cafeteria.The dinner will start at 5:30 p.m.Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for kids 8 or younger. Tickets may be purchased from any swim team member or at the door.

Girls basketball

Los Alamos has already had a busy opening week of play, and it’s not over yet. Following its win Albuquerque Academy Wednesday, Los Alamos headed to Del Norte Thursday to take on the Knights. Los Alamos won that game 31-25 (see story on page 12 for more information).Saturday, the ’Toppers will be a little closer to home, facing Pojoaque’s Elks.Pojoaque, meanwhile, won its first contest of the season, coming from behind to nip Mora 43-41 at Mora. Pojoaque has a home game scheduled against Laguna-Acoma tonight before its contest with Los Alamos.Hilltopper head coach Gerry Washburn said he didn’t know a lot about Pojoaque, but had heard that the Elks had the players to make a serious run for a Class AAA state title.Los Alamos has yet to break 40 points this season, but Washburn said his team’s well equipped to put up some big numbers on offense as soon as the offensive flow and, particularly, the shooting gets on track.Los Alamos just edged Pojoaque in the teams’ 2006 regular season meeting at Griffith Gym, 42-41, on a basket by Bryanna Richins with 12 seconds remaining in regulation. That game was Los Alamos’ 2006 season opener.The Hilltoppers’ biggest challenge in Saturday’s game may well be energy conservation. The team was starting to tire during the fourth quarter of the Academy game, nearly losing a 9-point fourth quarter lead due in part to fatigue. Los Alamos was dragging going into Del Norte as well, which kept that ballgame closer than it might otherwise have been.“The nice thing about (Saturday’s game) is that the kids will get to go to bed tonight, sleep in, and rest their legs a little and their brains a little,” Washburn said.

Boys basketball

Lenny Roybal, one of the most famous — or, depending on one’s point of view, infamous — coaches in northern New Mexico basketball history, was in town Tuesday to scout the Hilltoppers in their season opener against Kirtland Central.Roybal’s first impression was that Los Alamos was big. His next impression was that his team, Santa Fe, wasn’t big.However, it’s certain that Roybal, who has been coaching around the northern New Mexico area for the better part of four decades, will have his squad ready for Friday night.Hilltopper head coach Alan Kirk said he noticed Roybal sitting in the bleachers for Tuesday’s game, and that Roybal will have an upper hand in the scouting department.“We don’t know anything about them,” Kirk said of Santa Fe.However, Roybal’s game plan is predictable. His teams like to play slow, ball-control offense, even when that means holding onto the ball for an entire quarter before taking a shot at the buzzer, which his teams have done in Griffith Gym in the past.“They play slow-ball,” Kirk said. “He sets up in a pattern, and he runs it.”The Demons are young, with seven sophomores on their squad and a lone senior, center Matt Dean. Dean didn’t score against Los Alamos in the 2006 meeting between the squads, won by Los Alamos 56-48 at Santa Fe.Los Alamos had a hot shooting performance in its big 72-48 win over Kirtland Central Tuesday. The Hilltoppers converted on 50 percent of their shot attempts in the first half and nearly 46 percent for the game.The foul shooting, which stood at 50 percent Tuesday, was something the team needed to work on. Los Alamos also committed some silly fouls against Kirtland Central, albeit when the game was well in-hand.


The Los Alamos Hilltopper hockey team will have its home opener Friday night, and another contest on Saturday, at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink.Los Alamos opened its regular season with a pair of wins, both coming Nov. 11. The team thumped both St. Pius X and the Albuquerque Composite team by a combined 14-1 in those two games.The Hilltoppers face the Cibola Cougars Friday night. When the two teams met in December at the rink, the game ended in a brawl. The Hilltoppers and Cougars tied in that contest, 3-3.On Saturday, Los Alamos will play Rio Rancho at the ice rink.Friday’s game is slated for 7 p.m. and Saturday’s game will be played at 10:45 a.m. Admission is free this season for all home hockey games.The Hilltoppers play in the New Mexico Interscholastic Ice Hockey League. It is unaffiliated with the New Mexico Activities Association.Los Alamos is coached by Craig Wehner.Currently, the Hilltoppers are 2-0, tied with both Eldorado and Santa Fe for tops in the NMIHL standings. Cibola sits at 1-2 and Rio Rancho won its only league game to date.