Prep boys basketball: Capital tops LA, earns share of district title

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By Jose Corral

Capital's full-court pressure was once again too much to handle for the Los Alamos boys basketball team.

The Jaguars went into Griffith Gym Friday night and downed the Hilltoppers 72-48 to secure a share of the District 2-5A regular season title. Española Valley's win at Del Norte sets up a tiebreak matchup between the Jaguars and Sundevlis to determine the top-seed for next week's District 2-5A tournament. The date and location for the tiebreak game are yet to determined.

Meanwhile, Los Alamos ends the regular season at 11-14 overall and its 3-5 district record is enough to give the Hilltoppers the No. 4 seed for the district tournament. Los Alamos will host Albuquerque Academy on Monday in the first round.

"They (Capital) handle the ball so well and they're so patient with their offense," Los Alamos coach Mike Kluk said. "Once you get behind, it's hard to comeback at them. Giving that early lead just killed us."

Friday's game was similar to the team's previous meeting, where the Jaguars romped Los Alamos by negating any passes to the inside with its heavy pressure in the backcourt.

That pressure was alive and early on Friday, as Capital started the game on an 11-4 run and a Tyler Alarid 3-pointer extended that lead to 14-4 with 2:21 remaining in the first quarter. Matt Smith's triple before the first-quarter buzzer gave the Jaguars a 21-8 lead going into the second.

Capital began to pull away in the second frame, after starting the quarter on a 7-0 run. Troy Hammock finally stopped the bleeding with a foul-and-bucket on the other end. Los Alamos went on a small run to end the first half and Ramon Roybal's triple cut Capital's lead to 39-25 with 1:22 left in the second.

"We had eight turnovers in the first quarter and we just gave them that quick lead," Kluk said. "With a team like Capital you can't do that. We scrapped pretty good in the second quarter and got back in it a little bit. And we just couldn't get over the hump."

The Capital lead grew to 49-29 after Alarid's jumper with 3:23 left in the third quarter.

Los Alamos couldn't chip away at the Jaguars lead and was outscored 33-23 in the second half.

"They just really put that perimeter pressure on us and they switch everything so it's hard for people to get open," Kluk said. "Our guys didn't do a good job on that tonight. Our bigs weren't getting open, and when they were open, our guards had some much pressure on them that they weren't looking in."

Smith and Alarid terrorized the Hilltoppers defense in the first meeting and they did the same on Friday. But this time, they also had the backing of Jeremy Anaya, who helped seal the win for Capital.

Anaya finished with a game-high 18 points, while Alarid tallied 14 and Smith scored 13.

Michael Naranjo had a couple of good moments and led the Hilltoppers with 11 points.

A loss against Academy on Monday could put Los Alamos out of the state tournament.

"I think we're OK for Monday," Kluk said. "Academy doesn't seem worry us as much. They don't near as much pressure as Española and Capital. But then again, you don't take anything for granted."