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  • Volleyball players earn all-district honors

    After an outstanding finish to the regular season, several members of the Los Alamos High School volleyball team earned all-district accolades.

    LAHS junior Natalie Gallegos was named the District 2-4A player of the year, while head coach Joe Palmer was named the district coach of the year. In addition, Gallegos, Sophia Salazar and Elodie Thelliez were named first-team all-district performers.

    The Hilltoppers enjoyed an outstanding turnaround this season. When Palmer took over in mid-September, the team got on a roll and won the District 2-4A regular season and tournament championships, defeating Pojoaque Valley for both titles.

    LAHS advanced to the state tournament, where the team was defeated by Hope Christian in the Round of 12.
    Gallegos led the Hilltoppers with 244 kills, and added 107 blocks, one of the top totals in the state. She recorded a kill on more than 36 percent of her attacks, and was among the most reliable players on the court at all times.

    Just a junior, she stepped into a leadership role this season and acted as a captain. She got stronger as the season moved along, and came up with some of her best performances in the district championship game, and at the state tournament.

  • Atomic City Update: Referees and officials help high school sports thrive

    In the spirit of the holiday season, I would like to acknowledge the officials and referees, without whom none of us could enjoy high school athletics throughout the school year. They are a group of people that rarely receive any kind of acknowledgement or appreciation, and that is really unfortunate.

    Ever since I arrived in New Mexico, I have enjoyed numerous great conversations with officials and referees at all kinds of sporting events, and have found them to be among the friendliest people in all of sports.

    But anytime I hear fans or players talking about the officials, it always seems to be negative. In a way, that comes with the territory. It doesn’t seem to matter what level of sports you are watching, the officials are always made out to be the bad guys.

    They are the easiest people to make into scapegoats. It’s that way in the NBA, the NFL and Major League Baseball. It is said that the best compliment to give a referee is to not notice they are even on the field.

  • LAHS to face tough test at Roswell tourney

    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.

  • LAHS to face top teams at holiday tournament

    After a rocky start to the season, the Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team heads to Clovis for the Plateau Holiday Classic Thursday through Saturday, hoping to build momentum to carry over into 2019.

    The tournament will challenge the Hilltoppers, as it is full of tough and unfamiliar opponents from New Mexico and Texas that will push LAHS for three days.

    The Hilltoppers are 3-6 heading into the tournament. In the team’s most recent games, the Hilltoppers gave up an early 13-point lead against Roswell, losing in overtime. The next day, LAHS defeated a tough Artesia team thanks to 27 points from junior Becca Green. Along with Green, Natalie Gallegos and Alex Calderon have emerged as offensive threats as the team continues to show signs of improvement.

    In the first round of the tournament, the Hilltoppers will face host school Clovis at 6:15 p.m. Thursday. The Wildcats have gone 3-5 this year, with wins against Portales, Cleveland and Albuquerque High. The team has struggled for offensive consistency at times, but Mikyla Harkey and Antanishwa Molett have been bright spots, averaging more than 10 points per game each.

    The winner of that opening round matchup will face the winner of Farmington against Texas school Borger High School on Friday.

  • Football players earn all-district honors

    Though the ultimate result wasn’t what the team had in mind, several members of the Los Alamos High School football team had outstanding individual seasons and were honored with all-district accolades. Several members of this year’s team stepped into brand new roles and excelled, giving the Hilltoppers plenty of hope for the future.

    Perhaps the biggest strength of the team was the play of its offensive line. The group kept pressure off the quarterbacks and opened holes for the running backs consistently. Three members of the offensive line were honored as first-team all district performers.

    Justin Gilbert was honored for his play at tackle, Levi Guarello for his play at center and Dimitri Bullock for his play at guard.

    Lawrence Armenta, who played on the offensive line in his junior season, made the move to fullback this season and succeeded immediately, earning first-team all-district honors for his running ability.

    Several other skill position players were honored as second-team all-district performers.

    Walker Eaton, who split time between wide receiver and quarterback throughout the season, was honored for his ability to catch the ball. He proved to be a threat down the field.

    Dylan Irish was honored for his play at quarterback, where he proved to be a leader and showed great improvement throughout the season.

  • Atomic City Update: A look back at this year’s top moments

    As I sat down this week to think about the greatest moments in Los Alamos sports so far this school year, I was amazed to realize how much success this community has been able to celebrate.

    This is my third time doing one of these columns, and never before have I had so many tough decisions to make. Every fall sports team had outstanding moments and accomplishments, and narrowing the list down to five moments was no easy task.

    Both soccer teams, both cross country teams and the volleyball team advanced to compete for state championships, and the football team provided fans with lots of memorable moments. As 2018 comes to a close, I would like to celebrate the good moments and acknowledge the tough endings. Every one of these teams has something to be proud of and it is always fun to take a look back.

    I just hope the rest of the school year is filled with as many memorable moments as the first half was. If it is, this community is in for a real treat.

    5. Football upsets Bloomfield at Sullivan Field

  • LAHS gets back to action after tough tourneys

    After facing tough teams in tournament play over the weekend, the Los Alamos High School basketball teams return to regular season action this week hoping the experience gained carries over moving forward.

    In the Roswell Poe Corn Tournament, the LAHS boys took home seventh place. The team lost its opening round game to Goddard 67-56, and fell in a tight battle against Fort Sumner 60-55. The team got back on track, though, in the final game of the tournament, taking down Bloomfield 61-54.

    Heading into the tournament, head coach Mike Kluk said he was looking for improved offensive production from his team in the tournament. With three performances of more than 50 points, it appears the Hilltoppers are heading in the right direction. The emergence of junior Gavin Campos has been important for the team as he continues to be the team’s leading scorer.

    Now more than 10 games into the season, players are settling into their roles and continue to improve. This week, LAHS will get back to action on the road against Belen at 7 p.m. Saturday Belen, the defending Class 5A state champion, has struggled throughout the early part of the season, and currently has a record of 5-6.

    In the Grants Tournament Dec. 20-22, the Eagles took home fourth place. After defeating Kirtland Central 66-53 in the first round, Belen lost to Miyamura and Capital.

  • Atomic City Update: There is equal value in practice and playing games

    One of the most interesting discussions I have with coaches centers round how to balance game action against practice time, particularly early in the season. After a girl’s basketball game last week, I asked Los Alamos High School head coach Lanse Carter if he thought playing in an early season tournament would benefit his team. 

    At the time, my thinking was that it would allow them game time to work through some issues that have developed. The thing that struck me most was that he had a long pause before answering. It’s certainly not as simple of an answer as I thought it was. 

    When he answered, he said, “Yes and no.” And that is exactly how almost every coach feels this time of year. Coaches like to find out what they have on their team early in the season, but they also want as much time to practice with their team so they know the full scope of the offensive and defensive schemes. 

  • Fourth quarter woes continue for LAHS

    For three quarters Thursday night against Valencia High School, the Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball team played the kind of basketball head coach Mike Kluk has been expecting to see all season. 

    Then, in the fourth quarter, everything unraveled. With a combination of foul trouble and an inefficient offense, Valencia took control near the end of game and defeated the Hilltoppers 71-52. 

    LAHS was flying high entering Thursday’s contest. Earlier this week, the Hilltoppers won for the first time this season, 56-41 over Santa Fe Indian School. In that game, junior Gavin Campos emerged as LAHS’ leading offensive weapon with 19 points, including four 3-point baskets. 

    “Our offense has gotten more comfortable, and Gavin has gotten into that flow,” Kluk said. “When you get him into the open court, he is always good.”

    In the first half against Valencia, Campos continued his offensive hot streak, scoring 12 points and controlling the flow of the game. It was a fast-paced half, and the Hilltoppers proved to be up to the challenge. 

  • Boys’ basketball gets started against tough opponents

    Heading into the 2018-19 season, there are plenty of factors working against the Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball team. More than 80 percent of last year’s scoring has been lost to graduation. There are only five players returning with any kind of varsity experience. And to make matters even tougher, the New Mexico Activities’ Association gave teams less time than ever to practice before the season begins. 

    Official practices got underway following the conclusion of fall sports, more than halfway through November. With only a few days of practice under their belts, the Hilltoppers will step on the court for the first games of the season this week, with home matchups against two of the toughest teams on LAHS’ schedule, St. Pius and Bernalillo. 

    The season gets underway at 7 p.m. Thursday, with a home matchup against St. Pius, a team that has historically been one of the top programs in the state. Last year, the Sartans went 16-11, and 4-4 in district play. The Hilltoppers did defeat St. Pius in Albuquerque, though, 70-56. 

    It was one of the top games for LAHS in the 2017-18 season, and was the team’s last true road win of last season.