Prep boys basketball: ‘Toppers fall at Capital, 58-36

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By Jose Corral

It was one of those games where the Los Alamos boys basketball team couldn’t capitalize from a hefty size advantage.
Instead, the Hilltoppers couldn’t cope with the speed of the Capital guards, as the Jaguars pulled away late and handed Los Alamos a 58-36 loss Tuesday night in Santa Fe.
“We were not surprised that we lost,” Los Alamos coach Mike Kluk said. “We didn’t play all that well and it was disappointing.”
The Hilltoppers fell to 1-2 in District 2-5A and 9-11 overall, while Capital stayed within a game of first place and improved to 17-4 overall.
In its previous two games, Los Alamos was able to get productivity from post players. But those games happened 11 and 14 days prior to Tuesday, as games against Goddard and Española Valley were cancelled and rescheduled.
“I don’t know how much it had to do with us not playing in over a week,” Kluk said. “We had a week of practice leading up to Espanola but that didn’t end up happening, Maybe that had something to do with it.”
Capital applied pressure in the backcourt for most of the game. That pressure wasn’t picked up well by Los Alamos and it was never comfortable taking the ball up the court. The Capital guard play of Tyler Alarid and Matt Smith executed on both sides of the floor to help give the Jaguars a 16-8 lead.
Alarid and Smith combined to score 10 of Capital’s first 16 points. Meanwhile, Los Alamos guards Ramon Roybal and Antonio Trujillo struggled to set up the offense.
“If we turn the ball over 15 to 20 times, we are going to have a real hard time winning a game,” Kluk said. “Against a good team like Capital, if you have 22 turnovers you’re are going to get beat by 20, and that’s what happened. Our guards didn’t handle the pressure well.”
The Hilltoppers were able to get some success in the second quarter but the Jaguars continued to execute on offense and led 30-23 at halftime.
Capital started to put the game out of reach in the third quarter when an Alarid layup followed by a Smith 3-pointer gave the Jaguars a 42-29 lead going into the final frame.
Capital didn’t slow down in the final eight minutes. The Jaguars outscored Los Alamos 16-7 in the fourth.
“We had the advantage inside, but our guards just didn’t get us into that situation. Sometimes when we did, we just couldn’t put the ball in the hole,” Kluk said. “It just wasn’t a good night.”
Alarid led Capital with 19 points, while Smith finished with 12.
Los Alamos got 10 points from Michael Naranjo, who made his first appearance after suffering a concussion in the Jan. 10 game against Taos.
The Hilltoppers will travel to face Del Norte at 7 p.m. tonight in Albuquerque.
“It’s kind of a must-win for us,” Kluk said of tonight’s game against Del Norte. “It’s a big game and we need to play well.”
Elsewhere in District 2-5A
Española scraped out a 51-50 win at home on Tuesday against Del Norte to stay in first place and unbeaten in district.
Los Alamos, Del Norte and Albuquerque Academy are tied at the bottom with a win apiece. Capital is 3-1 in district play.
The Chargers will host the Sundevils at 7 p.m. tonight in Albuquerque.