LAHS drops two weekend games

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Boys’ basketball struggles offensively while battling injuries

By Phil Scherer

Playing games on back-to-back days isn’t easy for a basketball team under any circumstances. Doing it without the team’s best player makes it even more challenging.

This was the situation facing the Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball team last weekend, as it lost at home to Belen High School, and on the road to Santa Fe High School without the services of senior guard Antonio Trujillo.

Trujillo, who has averaged more than 13 points per game this season, was on the bench with an injury in both games.
The impact of him being out of the lineup was noticed immediately at the start of Friday’s game against Belen, as the Eagles jumped on top of the Hilltoppers 13-8 in the first quarter, and LAHS connected on just three shots. Two of those three shots were 3-pointers from Michael Naranjo and Ivan Balakirev, two of the team’s big men.

Getting the ball to the big men continued to be the theme for the Hilltoppers in the second quarter, as all 10 points the team scored in the quarter came from Balakirev, Naranjo and Troy Hammock, another of the team’s inside presences.

Heading into halftime, LAHS trailed 28-18. None of the Hilltopper guards scored in the first half, as Balakirev led the way with 7 points, Hammock had 6 points and Naranjo added 5 points.

The Hilltoppers attempted to make a comeback in the second half, as point guard Ramon Roybal shot well in the third quarter, connecting on a pair of 3-pointers and adding 8 total points in the period. Unfortunately for LAHS, the rest of the team didn’t shoot as well, scoring just 5 points total in the period.

Entering the fourth quarter, Belen led LAHS 41-31.

Offensively, the final quarter was good for the Hilltoppers, but it was not enough to climb back into the contest. Despite scoring 20 points in the quarter, LAHS was outscored 24-20 and lost the game 65-51, the team’s first home loss of the season.

Naranjo led the Hilltoppers with 14 points. Hammock added 10 points, and Roybal and Gavin Campos scored 8 points apiece.

The struggles continued for LAHS Saturday night, as the Hilltoppers traveled to Santa Fe High School.

In addition to being without Trujillo in Saturday’s game, the team was also without Roybal with an injury.

Though LAHS was able to keep the game close in the first quarter, and trailed just 17-15 after the first eight minutes, the second quarter was a completely different story.

The offense completely disappeared for the Hilltoppers in the quarter, as LAHS was outscored 20-3, and went into halftime trailing 37-18.

The deficit continued to widen for the Hilltoppers throughout the second half, as the team was outscored 17-7 in the third quarter, allowing Santa Fe to cruise to an easy 65-38 win.

Hammock and Naranjo scored 10 points apiece in defeat, while Campos added 8 points.

The Hilltoppers shot just 26 percent for the game, and knocked down only one 3-point basket. LAHS also connected on just 50 percent of its free throw attempts.

With the two losses, LAHS is now 7-7 this season.

It is unknown at this time how long the Hilltoppers will be without Trujillo and Roybal.

The team will return to the court for a home matchup Friday evening against Artesia High School at 7 p.m. This will be a rematch from the Roswell Poe Corn Tournament, which Artesia won 52-43.