Top-ranked Sundevils dominate against LAHS

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By Phil Scherer

Facing its biggest test of the season, the Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball team was unable to slow down the top ranked team in Class 5A, falling to Española Valley High School 87-63.

But just looking at the final box score wouldn’t do the Hilltoppers justice. In the early going, it was clear that the kids from Los Alamos were overwhelmed, and somewhat intimidated.

Ill-advised shots were taken all over the floor, and turnovers happened with regularity throughout the first quarter. The Sundevils scored the first 9 points of the game, and the Hilltoppers answered with 7 straight.

And then the real problems began. With the help of Hilltopper turnovers, Española Valley scored 22 straight points, and appeared unstoppable from everywhere on the floor.

The scoring run gave the Sundevils a 31-7 lead in the second quarter, a deficit that would be nearly impossible for any team to overcome.

LAHS never stopped fighting, though.

Through the remainder of the second quarter, the Hilltoppers kept the deficit the same, with both teams scoring 15 points. After knocking down just three shots in the first quarter, LAHS connected on six shots in the second quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers from Ramon Roybal and Brandan Duran.

Heading into halftime, the Sundevils led 46-22.

After halftime, LAHS continued to gain confidence, and it showed. Roybal continued his hot shooting, knocking down three 3-pointers in the third quarter.

Antonio Trujillo also knocked down a 3-pointer for his first points of the game after struggling with shooting and ball handling throughout the first half.

Though the Hilltoppers shot well in the quarter, fouls were an issue for LAHS. The Sundevils got to the free throw line nine times, knocking down seven of them.

LAHS outscored Española Valley 21-20 in the quarter, and headed into the fourth quarter trailing 66-43.

As the clock wound down, the Sundevils continued to maintain control, though stopping Trujillo proved to be a challenge for Española Valley.

Trujillo scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a few highlight-reel quality layups that caused gasps from the Española crowd.

Despite his outstanding play, LAHS wasn’t able to trim the gap, and fell 87-63.

However, after falling behind 31-7, the teams played even the rest of the way, as the Hilltoppers fell by the same 24-point deficit it faced early in the second quarter.

The continued fight and determination showed by LAHS is an encouraging sign for the rest of the season.

In defeat, the Hilltoppers were led in scoring by Roybal, who had 18 points, including five 3-pointers.

As an inside presence, Michael Naranjo had a strong game, picking up 9 points, and adding 11 rebounds. He struggled shooting close to the rim, however, connecting on just three of his 11 2-point attempts.

As a team, the Hilltoppers shot 38 percent for the game, though the team was much better in the second half.

By defeating LAHS, the Sundevils improve to 19-1 this year, and appear to be the clear favorites to win the state championship in Class 5A at the end of the season.

The Hilltoppers drop to 9-12 this season, and are currently on a five-game losing streak.

LAHS will return to the court tonight to face Capital High School at Griffith Gymnasium at 7 p.m. Capital is 17-4, and is currently No. 3 in the Class 5A rankings.