LAHS to face top teams at holiday tournament

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By Phil Scherer

After a rocky start to the season, the Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team heads to Clovis for the Plateau Holiday Classic Thursday through Saturday, hoping to build momentum to carry over into 2019.

The tournament will challenge the Hilltoppers, as it is full of tough and unfamiliar opponents from New Mexico and Texas that will push LAHS for three days.

The Hilltoppers are 3-6 heading into the tournament. In the team’s most recent games, the Hilltoppers gave up an early 13-point lead against Roswell, losing in overtime. The next day, LAHS defeated a tough Artesia team thanks to 27 points from junior Becca Green. Along with Green, Natalie Gallegos and Alex Calderon have emerged as offensive threats as the team continues to show signs of improvement.

In the first round of the tournament, the Hilltoppers will face host school Clovis at 6:15 p.m. Thursday. The Wildcats have gone 3-5 this year, with wins against Portales, Cleveland and Albuquerque High. The team has struggled for offensive consistency at times, but Mikyla Harkey and Antanishwa Molett have been bright spots, averaging more than 10 points per game each.

The winner of that opening round matchup will face the winner of Farmington against Texas school Borger High School on Friday.

Farmington has had a great start to the season, going 6-1, with the only loss coming against Cleveland High School in the Albuquerque Academy Tournament. The team’s defense has been a strength since the season began, giving up more than 50 points only one time. Currently, three of the Scorpions are averaging more than 10 points per game.

Borger enters the tournament with a record of 5-6 against a schedule full of tough Texas teams. This trip across the New Mexico border is a rare one for Borger, as the team only has one other game against an out-of-state opponent the rest of the season. Borger also competed in this tournament in 2017.

On the other side of the bracket, Piedra Vista is expected to be the top team. The Panthers are 6-2 this season, and are currently ranked one of the top 10 teams in New Mexico. The team has already competed in two tournaments this year, losing to Gallup in the finals of the John Lomasney Tournament, and to Centennial in the semifinals of the Rio Rancho Tournament.

Facing the Panthers in the first round will be Dumas High School, another of the Texas competitors. Dumas is 3-6 so far this season, and has already faced teams from Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma in the early portion of its schedule. Against a tough schedule of unfamiliar teams, offense has been a struggle for the Demons.

In the final matchup, Volcano Vista will take on Randall High School, the final Texas entrant.

Volcano Vista is 4-1 so far this season, and this will be the team’s first tournament action. The team lost its first game of the year against La Cueva, but has rebounded with four straight impressive wins. A pair of freshmen, Jaelyn Bates and
Natalia Bates, have starred offensively. Jaelyn Bates averages more than 20 points per game, while Natalia Bates adds 15.8 points per game.

Facing all Texas schools, Randall has gone 4-6 so far this season. The team has consistently struggled defensively, giving up more than 70 points per game consistently.

The tournament concludes with the championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday.