• Hilltoppers earn dramatic win in district opener

    Throughout the season, the Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team has shown extended flashes of brilliance, but has struggled to find consistency. Highlight-reel type plays are often followed by mental errors or lapses in judgment on the court. Despite these issues, the team has continued to improve, a theme that continued Tuesday night in the District 2-4A opener against Moriarty. 

    After leading by double digits in the fourth quarter, Moriarty staged an impressive comeback to force overtime before LAHS recovered for a 62-54 victory in the most important game of the season so far. 

    Heading into the game, Moriarty and LAHS were looking to start the district season with a victory to gain better position in the standings. Moriarty entered the contest with a 9-9 record, while LAHS entered the game at 6-11 after facing a tougher non-district slate of games. 

    Early on, the Hilltoppers appeared to be tougher on both ends of the floor, forcing turnovers and wild shots on the defensive side and running a composed and effective offense. 

  • LAHS wins three straight for first time this year

    For the first time since early 2017, the Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball team is on a three-game win streak. None of the victories have been easy, with the latest, a 47-45 win over Miyamura Saturday at Griffith Gymnasium, coming down to the final moments. 

    Much like all of the games recently, the Hilltoppers got off to a strong start offensively, going up 11-5 after the first quarter. Junior guard Brian Irwin was strong near the basket for LAHS, converting on a pair of contested layups. 

    The LAHS defense was outstanding as well, limiting Miyamura to one made field goal in the first quarter. Junior forward Gavin Campos and junior guard Matthew Owen were particularly strong defensively, covering the team’s shooters on every possession. 

    The shots continued to fall for the Hilltoppers in the second quarter, as Campos scored five points and senior guard David Owen added six points. Miyamura’s top scorer, Gabe Lee, also found his range in the quarter. He scored eight quick points to get his team back in the game, including a pair of three-point baskets. 

    At halftime, LAHS led 26-18, and appeared to be in control. 

  • Hilltoppers win second straight home game

    For the second time this week, the Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball team defeated a former district rival at Griffith Gymnasium, this time taking down Del Norte 60-57. 

    Much like Tuesday’s win over Albuquerque Academy, the Hilltoppers injected late drama into the contest. After leading by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, LAHS allowed the Knights to get back into the game and tie the score in the fourth quarter. 

    LAHS was able to survive the late rally thanks to the clutch free throw shooting of junior guard Brian Irwin, as well as the aggressive defensive play of junior forward Gavin Campos. 

    Trailing by three points with less than 10 seconds remaining, Del Norte had an opportunity to tie the score and send the game to overtime. The pass down the court came to Jordan Nielsen, Del Norte’s top three-point shooting threat. 

    Nielsen had already knocked down a pair of three-pointers earlier in the game. The game-tying attempt, though, hit off the back of the rim and bounced off, sealing the win for the Hilltoppers. 

  • LAHS girls’ basketball loses road contest to Manzano

    By Isaac Fason

    The Los Alamos High School’s girls’ basketball team traveled to Manzano High School to face the Monarchs Thursday. The Hilltoppers and Monarchs battled hard and the score remained close for most of the game, but the Monarchs managed to pull away in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and beat LAHS 53-46.

    The Hilltoppers came out strong and took an early 6-2 lead in the early minutes of the game, but Manzano responded with strong play of their own and tied the game up at 15 at the end of the first quarter.

    The score remained close for most of the second quarter, and the Hilltoppers held a 23-22 lead with three minutes left in the half. The Hilltoppers closed the second quarter with solid play and went on an 8-2 run to take a 31-24 lead going into halftime.

    Manzano came out of the locker room ready to play, and the Hilltoppers found themselves trailing 33-35 with 4:45 left in the third quarter. Neither team could pull away, and the Hilltoppers went into the fourth just trailing 41-40.

  • Atomic City Update: Live, professional sports help create new, lifelong fans

    One of the most unique experiences I have had since I moved to New Mexico came last weekend, when I was able to watch college hockey teams play at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink. 

    It was a great, fun event, with the University of New Mexico, Dallas Baptist University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Nebraska facing off across two days in the outdoors. 

    It was so cool, and it made me wish that events like that happened more in New Mexico, where the highest level of competition is Division I college athletics at UNM and New Mexico State, or AAA baseball with the Albuquerque Isotopes. 

    If those are the highest levels of competition you have been able to witness living here, I highly recommend planning a trip to see professional sports played at the highest level. For us here in Los Alamos, the closest top-level sports city is Denver, where you can watch the Broncos play in the NFL, the Rockies play in the MLB, the Avalanche play in the NHL and the Nuggets play in the NHL. 

    Once you witness these games played at the highest level, it will give you a whole new appreciation for sports, because watching what those guys can do is truly breathtaking. 

  • Outdoor hockey tourney cut short due to weather

    The University of Nebraska finished with the best record at the Outdoor Nuclear Shootout hockey tournament at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink, but Mother Nature interfered, cutting the event short. 

    The University of New Mexico hosted the event, which included Dallas Baptist University and the University of Northern Arizona. All four of the schools were Division III ACHA teams. 

    Nebraska went 2-0-1 at the event, with its tie coming against UNM. 

    The Corn Huskers were the only undefeated team, with Dallas Baptist going 2-1 and UNM going 1-1-1. 

    Northern Arizona lost each of its three contests. 

    Nebraska and Dallas Baptist, the two teams with the best records across Friday and Saturday, were scheduled to face off Sunday morning in the championship match. 

    But due to heavy snow Los Alamos County received Saturday night into Sunday, the final game was canceled, leaving the final result unknown. 

  • LAHS wrestling wins all four matches at home meet

    In the most competitive non-district home meet of the season, the Los Alamos High School wrestling team showed great potential for the rest of the season, winning every dual match. 

    The Battle for the Hilltop meet saw the Hilltoppers take on Robertson, Ruidoso, St. Michael’s and Tierra Encantada at LAHS. Four other schools, Pecos, Piedra Vista, Pojoaque Valley and Wingate also participated in the meet, but did not face the Hilltoppers. 

    None of the teams fielded an entire roster, which gave the Hilltoppers many forfeit victories. 

    The most competitive dual of the day came against Robertson, with LAHS winning 60-24. 

    Though the Hilltoppers won three matches by forfeit, the team went 7-3 in competitive matches, with wins coming from Roman Ulibarri, Isaiah Maestas, Damian Gonzales, Teke Nieto, Brice Shao, Ty Nieto and Dylan Irish. 

    The Hilltoppers dominated the other three duals, as the team defeated Ruidoso 66-12, St. Michael’s 66-15 and Tierra Encantada 77-0. 

  • LAHS girls’ basketball picks up big win at Capital

    After leading by double digits at halftime, the Los Alamos High Scholl girls’ basketball team held on for a 45-41 win Tuesday night on the road against former district rival Capital. 

    It was the second meeting of the season between the teams. LAHS and Capital met in the second round of the Capitol City Tournament in early December, with the Hilltoppers earning a hard-fought 41-40 victory. 

    Early on in the rematch, it appeared the Hilltoppers would have no trouble pulling away. LAHS jumped out to a quick 13-7 lead, with junior Becca Green scoring the first seven points of the game. 

    She found herself double-teamed near the basket throughout the evening, but was still able to get her shots in the air to create offensive opportunities. 

    When the shots weren’t open for her, she did a good job of distributing the ball to her teammates, as Alex Calderon, Michaela Gonzales and Mattie Ruminer knocked down shots in the opening quarter. 

  • LAHS earns fifth place at Al Salazar Invitational

    In one of the toughest mid-season tournaments in northern New Mexico, the Los Alamos High School wrestling team gained valuable experience and posted some good results, finishing fifth among the 14 competing teams. 

    Cleveland High School won the Al Salazar Invitational in dominant fashion, with more than 30 points more than second place Santa Fe High. LAHS’ District 2-4A rival Taos finished in third place. The event was hosted by St. Michael’s High School.

    Dylan Irish and Damian Gonzales were the standout competitors for the Hilltoppers, both earning second place in their weight brackets. Irish competed in the 182-pound weight class, and Gonzales competed in the 126-pound weight class. 

    Gonzales, who is only a sophomore, has been impressive early in the season. He has a record of 18-5, and has been one of the top point-earners for the team so far. 

    For Irish, a senior, his loss in the finals was only his second loss of the season to this point. He is now 16-2 this year after impressing at the state tournament a year ago. 

    Three other Hilltoppers, Israel Gellis, Ty Nieto and Mateo Martinez, advanced to the semifinals in their weight brackets. 

  • Atomic City Update: College football should aim to be more like high school football

    Recently, there has been much discussion about what to do about the college football playoff system, and what the best way to improve it would be. I don’t know exactly what the best solution is, but I do know something needs to be done. 

    The playoff system is exactly why I have a hard time getting into college football, because it seems like as soon as a team loses a game, the chance of that team getting an opportunity to compete for a championship nearly disappears.  

    I think about it from the point of view of watching so much high school football recently, and so much professional football as long as I can remember. At those levels of competition, one loss in the regular season does not signal the end of the season. A loss offers a chance to learn and grow, and the best teams still rise to the top. 

    In college football, though, one loss makes it almost impossible to win a championship, and two losses completely takes a team out of the running. For some fans, this makes the game more exciting, because they feel like every game matters. For me, it does the exact opposite. Teams are being punished too heavily for having one bad game, and that destroys the excitement of the sport for me.