Hilltoppers split weekend home games

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By Phil Scherer

In the team’s last chance to prepare for the District 2-5A season, the Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball team split a pair of home games over the weekend, defeating Artesia High School and falling to Lovington High School.

Friday night’s contest was a rematch from the Roswell Poe Corn tournament, held in late December. In that game, LAHS held a 30-15 halftime lead, before watching it slip away in the second half en route to a 52-43 Artesia victory.

Much like the first matchup, the Hilltoppers shot the ball well early, and jumped out to a 15-10 first quarter lead.

Shooting 3-pointers were a big part of the early success, as Ramon Roybal, Gavin Campos and Michael Naranjo all knocked down deep shots in the opening quarter.

The offense dried up in the second quarter for the Hilltoppers, however, as the team managed just 4 points, while allowing 13 points to Artesia. Much of Artesia’s success in the quarter came from Chaney Hardt, who went 6-6 from the free throw line.

Heading into halftime, Artesia led 23-19.  Campos was the only Hilltopper to contribute more than 4 points in the opening half, scoring 7 points in the first quarter.

Once LAHS came out of the locker room for the second half, the offense fired on all cylinders. In the third quarter, the Hilltoppers scored 28 points, and appeared unstoppable from beyond 3-point range.

In the quarter, LAHS knocked down five 3-pointers, including three from Roybal. The hot shooting allowed the Hilltoppers to go into the final quarter with an 8-point lead, at 47-39.

Artesia proved to be resilient, however, and never let the game get too far out of reach. At one point in the fourth quarter, the LAHS lead was trimmed to 1 point, and it took another strong effort offensively to maintain an advantage.

Roybal continued his strong game with 7 fourth-quarter points, and Antonio Trujillo added 7 points of his own in the quarter. As a team, the Hilltoppers shot 11-16 from the free throw line in the quarter, helping to seal the game for LAHS, which won 70-62.

Roybal led the Hilltoppers with 19 points, while Campos added 15 points and Naranjo scored 14. Trujillo scored 9 points, all in the second half.

Saturday afternoon, Lovington High School came to Griffith Gymnasium, and the Hilltoppers were unable to repeat Friday’s exciting performance.

LAHS started the game well, and ended the first quarter with a 12-11 lead, thanks to strong defense and 3-pointers from Roybal and Naranjo.

Much like Friday’s game, however, the offense struggled in the second quarter, and was held in check into the closing minutes of the half.

The defense didn’t play as well in the second quarter, either, allowing Lovington to score 23 points and enter halftime with a 34-22 lead.

Though the Hilltoppers closed the gap to 8 points during the third quarter, it was never able to get any closer.

Lovington’s shooters continued to scorch the net, and scored another 23 points in the third quarter, extending the lead to 57-34.

With a big lead entering the final quarter, Lovington cruised to a convincing 77-48 victory.

No Hilltoppers scored double-digits in the loss. Naranjo and Roybal were the leading scorers with 9 points apiece, while Trujillo scored 7 points. David Owen and Troy Hammock each scored 6 points.

LAHS, now with a 9-8 record, will prepare to kick off District 2-5A play this week, with games against Del Norte on the road tonight, and a home game against Albuquerque Academy Saturday evening. The team will also play a non-district game against Goddard High School at home Friday evening.