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  • Boys’ basketball earns district win over Moriarty

    Throughout most of district play, leading scorers Gavin Campos and David Owen have struggled to get involved in the offensive flow. Whether it was because of foul trouble or being double-teamed, the duo has not been as effective as in the early part of the season. That all changed Saturday night, as Campos and Owen combined to score 38 points in LAHS’ 55-41 victory over Moriarty. 

    The win marked the first district victory for the Hilltoppers since Feb. 20, 2017, a win over Albuquerque Academy in the district tournament. 

    Campos and Owen got involved early, both knocking down a three-point shot in the first quarter. 

    They also both drove to the basket with impressive moves, easily slicing through the Moriarty defense. 

    Thanks to their offensive output, along with a three-point shot by Sahib Khalsa, LAHS led 14-10 after the first quarter. 

    Moriarty switched to a matchup zone defense in the second quarter, and LAHS had a difficult time solving it. Much of the second quarter was spent with the Hilltoppers passing the ball around the perimeter, hesitant to take an outside shot. 

  • LAHS improves to 5-0 in district

    With three games remaining in the regular season, the Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team is still in first place in District 2-4A, sitting at 5-0 after a road victory against Moriarty Friday night. 

    Earlier this season, Moriarty provided the Hilltoppers with one of the toughest district games so far, erasing a double-digit fourth quarter deficit to force overtime. LAHS regained control in overtime to win the game 62-54. 

    Early on, it appeared the rematch would feature similar drama. In the first half, Moriarty did an outstanding job of guarding LAHS junior Becca Green, who has been the team’s top offensive threat all season. She was often double-teamed or triple-teamed, keeping her out of the offense most of the time. 

    In her place, senior Alex Calderon did a great job of scoring, knocking down a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter, and another in the second quarter. LAHS connected on five total three-pointers in the first half. 

    The Hilltoppers trailed 11-10 after the first quarter, but bounced back to take a 28-26 lead heading into halftime. 

  • LAHS wrestling sweeps district duals

    In the first competition of the season against district opponents, the Los Alamos High School wrestling team dominated the District 2-4A duals, defeating every team that stood in its way. 

    LAHS took down Española Valley, Pojoaque Valley, Moriarty and Taos, with three of those wins coming in dominant fashion. 

    The Hilltoppers defeated Española Valley 60-24, Pojoaque Valley 72-12 and Moriarty 63-18. 

    The most compelling match of the day came against Taos, which LAHS narrowly won 42-40. 

    The match went down to the wire, but LAHS picked up just enough victories to earn the dual win. 

    Ben Gellis, competing in the 106-pound weight class, was one of the top standouts for the Hilltoppers, winning each of his four matches, including a highly important match against Taos. 

    Mateo Martinez, competing in the 195-pound weight class, was also impressive, winning each of his three contested duals. He also earned another victory by forfeit. 

  • Atomic City Update: Coaches should be applauded for how they handle tough seasons

    One of the toughest things for a coach to do is continue to keep the motivation of a team high during the tough times. Not every season can be a rousing success, but coaches who are able to keep a team fighting when the going gets rough are the most impressive.

    I have seen that quality this season out of Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball coach Mike Kluk. No, the season hasn’t gone as well as some might have hoped. But that team shows up every game ready to fight and make life as difficult as possible for the opposition. 

    The team was rewarded with a district victory last week over Moriarty. Some teams might have given up and stopped fighting long before that game. Even after that win, LAHS is only 6-17, but it is obvious they are playing for so much more than just a record. They are playing for pride, and they have a strong desire to keep fighting for each other and improving. 

    These kinds of rebuilding seasons happen at all levels of sports, and not everyone handles them with grace and class. At the professional level, coaches often lose their tempers and end up losing their jobs because things don’t go the way they expected. 

  • Mang brothers ready to lead UNM back to top of MW

    The stakes are higher than ever for Connor and Jared Mang. Not long ago, the brothers suited up in Hilltopper gear hoping to win district championships for Los Alamos High School. Now, they are two of the biggest sources of hope for the University of New Mexico baseball team, a group intent on returning to the top of the mountain West Conference.

    Both of the Mang brothers are extremely talented, and highly confident about what the Lobos are capable of accomplishing this year. They are also both capable of accomplishing great things on the baseball diamond. 

    Last season, as a redshirt freshman, Connor Mang was named to the freshman All-American team as the starting first baseman for the Lobos. He batted .326 with two home runs, 10 doubles, three triples and had 15 multi-hit games. He also committed only one error at first base. 

    This year, the expectations are even higher for Connor Mang, but he intends on letting his bat and glove do the talking. 

  • Atomic City Update: Carter has created winning culture for Hilltopper girls’ basketball

    If you are a fan of Los Alamos girls’ basketball, you have to be pretty happy right now. In the last two weeks, the Hilltoppers have taken down Española Valley and Pojoaque Valley, both games in which LAHS was the underdog. 

    Through the first rotation of district play, the Hilltoppers are undefeated and look like a real threat to win a district title. The odds of that happening before the season were monumental. This was a team that won a total of six games last year, and six games the year before that. 

    There has been a massive culture change over the last few months. Now, the girls expect to win every time they show up to the court. There is aggressiveness and a sense of confidence that has been missing for years. 

    For the most part, the girls remain the same from last year’s team. The difference is, with Lanse Carter now coaching the girls, they understand what it means to play as a team, have a better grasp on the fundamentals and have a solid game plan heading into every matchup. 

  • Hilltoppers drop to 0-4 in district play

    Throughout the first half of the district season, the Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball team has struggled to find consistent sources of offense. 

    Familiar issues popped up again Thursday night against Pojoaque Valley, as the Hilltoppers managed only 13 points in the second half, falling 45-35 at home. 

    “We just have to improve,” Hilltopper head coach Mike Kluk said. “There are a lot of things we can still improve on. We can still get better, and maybe make a run in the district tournament.”

    Despite losing the first four district games, Kluk believes his team is capable of defeating some of the other teams in the district the second time through the rotation. 

    LAHS was within 15 points in all four district contests to this point. 

    LAHS and Pojoaque Valley played an even first half, as both teams struggled to get into an offensive rhythm. The first quarter ended 9-9, and the second quarter ended 22-22. 

    The Hilltoppers remained competitive in the first half without the services of leading scorer Gavin Campos, who was on the bench with two fouls he picked up early in the first quarter. 

  • Atomic City Update: Passionate fans lead to more motivated high school teams

    Wow, what an atmosphere there was this week at Griffith Gymnasium for the boy’s basketball game between Los Alamos High School and Española Valley. When I arrived nearly an hour before the opening tipoff for the varsity game, the stands were already so packed that I had trouble squeezing into my seat at the media table. I loved every second of it, because when I think of high school sports, that is the kind of crowd I envision.

    The effect of the crowd was obvious from the opening tip-off, as the players on the court had an extra jump in their step and the game seemed even more important than it actually was. For many of the LAHS players, this was the largest crowd they had ever played in front of, and it seemed like they enjoyed it immensely. There was an audible buzz in the air through the entire game, and for me, that’s one of the best noises in sports.

    I just wish more games had that kind of atmosphere, because student athletes deserve it. It’s not just a problem here, but all over the country in prep sports. Fewer people are taking time out of their evenings to watch high school sports, and that really is a shame. These kids work hard every day to perfect their craft, and it seems like communities don’t have the same level of pride when it comes to these teams as they once did.

  • LAHS takes down Española at Northern New Mexico College

    This year’s Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team goes against the grain when it comes to in-game strategy.

    While the rest of the basketball universe is fixated on the three-point shot, the Hilltoppers prefer to throw the ball near the hoop and take a high percentage shot. When it works, as it did in Thursday’s 69-58 road win over the Española Valley Sundevils, the Hilltoppers look unstoppable.

    In nearly every game, LAHS has a decided height advantage over its opponents. Five of the Hilltoppers stand at or near six feet tall, something very few girls’ teams around the country can claim. In recent games, the Hilltoppers have become more and more committed to getting the ball inside to juniors Becca Green and Natalie Gallegos whenever possible, and positive results have followed.

    Thursday’s game, which was scheduled to take place at Española Valley High School, had to be moved to Northern New Mexico College due to a transformer issue at the high school. The move to a neutral site seemed to work in LAHS’ favor, as the Sundevils lost its energetic home crowd, one of the most intimidating in the state.

  • Girls’ basketball improves to 3-0 in district play

    As their junior seasons move along, Becca Green and Natalie Gallegos continue to improve and become more deadly near the basket. Saturday night against Taos, the duo dominated the undersized Tigers, leading the Hilltoppers to a 53-27 victory.

    Last season, the duo played key roles on the Hilltopper varsity team, but struggled to understand their offensive responsibilities, leading to mistakes.

    With head coach Lanse Carter teaching them the correct way to play near the basket, LAHS has developed into a state tournament contender, thanks in large part to the play of its matchup-wrecking forwards.

    Playing a largely-undersized Tigers’ team at Griffith Gymnasium, Green and Gallegos made their presences felt early and often, combining for all 14 Hilltopper points in the first quarter. In transition, Green was unstoppable, and in the halfcourt offense, Gallegos was perfect, scoring when Green was double-teamed.

    LAHS jumped out to a 24-14 halftime lead, and there was never any doubt of who was in control. Green and Gallegos each had 10 points at the half, combining for 20 of the team’s 24 points. The other scoring output came from Alex

    Calderon, who has emerged as a top guard for LAHS thanks to her ability to handle the ball and finish at the basket.