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LAHS to face tough test at Roswell tourney

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By Phil Scherer

Since basketball season began, Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball coach Mike Kluk has said that he believes his team will be much improved once 2019 begins. One of the main reasons he believes that is that his team will be competing in the Roswell Poe Corn Tournament Dec. 27-29, facing some of the top teams in the state.

The experience gained at the tournament will be invaluable, and should prepare the Hilltoppers for the district season.

The Hilltoppers are 1-7 this year, but the team continues to show improvement every game. There were only two players on the roster with any real varsity experience heading into this season, and players have been adjusting to new challenges in games.

Junior guard Gavin Campos has played a key role in the team’s recent improvement, scoring 19 points in back-to-back games. Matthew Owen and David Owen have also taken on more responsibility and have begun to excel.

The Hilltoppers will take on one o the two host schools, Goddard, in the first round of the tournament at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 27.

Goddard is 5-3 so far this season, and has proven to be good in tournament play. The team performed well in both the Taos Tournament and the Albuquerque Academy Tournament. Derek Carrica is a team leader with 16 points per game, while Brandon Montanez also adds 10 points per game. As one of the host schools, Goddard will play the primetime game every day,

The winner of the matchup between Los Alamos and Goddard will play the winner of the matchup between Gallup and Fort Sumner.

Gallup is 2-2 this year, and recently earned fourth place at the City of Champions Tournament. The team has also defeated St. Pius in its only action outside tournament play.

The Bengals feature a balanced roster with four seniors and four juniors leading the way.

Fort Sumner has gone 4-3 early in the season, picking up wins over Capitan and Jal, as well as two schools from Texas. Offense has been a strength for the team in the early going, as the group has scored more than 80 points twice already.

Fort Sumner will have a height advantage throughout this season, featuring eight players that are over 6-feet-tall.

The other side of the bracket features some of the top teams in New Mexico, as Farmington will take on Artesia in the first round, while Bloomfield matches up against Roswell.

Farmington is 5-2, and has been highly impressive early in the season. After losing its opening game against Valencia, the Scorpions have been dominant, losing only once, to Bloomfield in triple overtime. It is one of the most experienced teams in the state, featuring eight seniors.

Artesia is 4-2 this year, and is ranked one of the top 20 teams in the state. The Bulldogs have impressive wins over Gallup and St. Pius, and have proven to be consistent offensively, scoring more than 60 points per game. The team is led by six seniors, and features a lot of height.

Bloomfield has had an interesting beginning of the season, going 3-2, with matchups against teams from Utah and Colorado under their belts.

Most recently, Bloomfield took down Farmington in triple overtime. The team has limited size and is led by its guard play, but has seven seniors.

Roswell, the other host school, currently ranks as one of the top 10 teams in New Mexico, and has gone 6-2 early in the season. The Coyotes are an offensive powerhouse, scoring 97 points in a game earlier this year. The team’s only losses are against Santa Fe High and Cleveland, two of the best teams in the state. Three Coyotes are averaging more than 14 points per game.

The tournament will conclude with the championship game at Goddard Gymnasium at 4 p.m. Dec. 29.