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  • 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.

  • Hilltoppers drop third straight district game

    Facing one of the top 10 teams in Class 4A on the road, the Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball team continued to struggle to find consistent sources of offense, falling to Taos High School 59-48.

    Since district play began, offense has been hard to come by for the Hilltoppers, as leading scorer Gavin Campos fouled out of the first two district contests. Though he returned to form Friday against the Tigers, finding secondary sources of offense continued to evade LAHS.

    Both teams struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the first quarter, as LAHS knocked down only three shots, and Taos found the bottom of the basket five times. Campos scored 5 points in the opening quarter, but went only 1-3 at the free throw line. The Hilltoppers trailed 11-7 after the first quarter.

    LAHS woke up offensively in the second quarter, as Campos connected on a deep three-point basket and Matthew Owen scored on a layup and a midrange jumper. Taos was deadly offensively in the quarter, though, knocking down a trio of three-pointers and extending its lead to 32-21 heading into the halftime break.

  • LAHS hockey dominates final home games

    With a four-game sweep last weekend, the Los Alamos High School hockey team took over first place in the Rio Grande Hockey League with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

    The Hilltoppers hosted Telluride and Durango for two games apiece at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink. They were the final home games of the season for LAHS, which will play its final four regular season games on the road.

    Facing Telluride, which has also been near the top of the standing all season, the Hilltoppers looked like a poised and battle-tested team. After leading 5-2 after the first two periods, Telluride made a furious comeback, scoring three goals in a row to tie the score 5-5.

    Though some teams would have allowed that to rattle them, the Hilltoppers did the opposite. Carson Schramm gave LAHS the lead right back a minute later, and the Hilltoppers held on for a 6-5 victory.

    The second game against Telluride was far less dramatic, as LAHS jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two periods and cruised to a 5-1 victory.

    The second two games of the weekend against Durango proved to be little challenge for the Hilltoppers. The team dominated Durango 8-2 in the first game, and cruised to a 4-0 win in the second game to earn the four-game home sweep.

  • Gonzales leads LAHS to top spot in District 2-4A

    In the classroom, Michaela Gonzales is only a sophomore. But on the basketball court, she is a leader and a key player in the LAHS girls’ basketball team’s turnaround this season.

    It didn’t take long for first-year head coach Lanse Carter to realize he had someone special in Gonzales. In one of his first meetings with the team last summer, Gonzales gathered around a team full of players older than her and with more experience and said, “We are all a part of something bigger than ourselves.”

    At the time, she may not have known how true that statement was. By leading her team to a 55-48 comeback victory on the road over Pojoaque Valley Tuesday night, she helped strengthen the winning culture developing around the program, and lifted the Hilltoppers to first place in District 2-4A.

    Heading into district play this season, the Elkettes were the unquestioned favorites. The team was 18-3 overall prior its matchup with the Hilltoppers, though both teams were 3-0 in district play.

  • Hilltoppers lose final non-district game

    In the final non-district game of the season, the Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team faced its toughest test yet as the La Cueva Lady Bears invaded Griffith Gymnasium. Though LAHS put up a good fight, La Cueva proved why it is one of the top teams in the state as the Lady Bears defeated the Hilltoppers 56-38. 

    La Cueva entered the game with a record of 14-2, ranked near the top of the Class 5A standings. The Lady Bears have been dominant at times this season, with multiple scoring threats on the floor at all times. 

    That scoring ability was certainly on display Saturday against LAHS, as La Cueva showed an ability to score from anywhere on the floor. 

    Early on, though, LAHS’ size advantage was key, as the Hilltoppers jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead, with all of the points coming from junior forward Becca Green, who dominated under the basket.