By GEORGE MORSE
Los Alamos Daily Post
Entering his second year as Head Coach of the Los Alamos High School Lady Hilltoppers basketball team, Josh Archuleta will finally have the opportunity to spend a summer with his team. Coach Archuleta was not hired until September of 2016. By that time, the summer was over and many of his basketball players were multi-sport athletes already deeply involved with fall sports like volleyball, soccer and cross country.
‘We didn’t know what we had until tryouts,” Coach Archuleta said.
The team suffered a further blow when senior guard Amber Logan, the top returning player who was expected to be a team leader, suffered a season-ending injury early in the year. The majority of the team was made up of young and inexperienced players who had seen little varsity action during the 2015-2016 season.
Last season the Lady Hilltoppers had a very atypical season. Traditionally a team that advanced to the state basketball playoffs, Los Alamos was just 6-21 last season and just 1-7 in District 2-5A. They did not advance to the state playoffs.
“The good thing was some of the younger girls were able to get some minutes,” Coach Archuleta said. “Players without experience were able to get that experience.”
Despite the lack of success last season, the turnout for summer basketball has been strong with 19 players participating. Coach Archuleta was able to split his squad into two teams at a recent Basketball Jamboree and Official’s camp June 2-3 hosted by Pojoaque Valley High School. There the Lady Hilltoppers faced teams from West Las Vegas, Espanola Valley High School, McCurdy Charter School, Questa High School, Taos High School, Santa Fe Indian School, Valencia High School, Penasco High School and host Pojoaque.
The Jamboree at Pojoaque is just a start for the Lady Hilltoppers. Coach Archuleta has put together a solid schedule of games for his first summer spent with the team.
“This (Pojoaque) is the first tournament,” Coach Archuleta said. “We’ve got 34 games lined up. Next week, we’ll go to Denver Tuesday-Sunday. We’ll play Roswell, Las Cruces Mayfield later this summer.”
The Lady Hilltoppers will still be a young team. That’s epitomized at the post position. Sophomores Natalie Gallegos and Rebecca Green took their lumps as freshmen. Both have good size, which is something the Lady Hilltoppers traditionally have. They should benefit from a summer program.
“Right now, they’re trying to prove themselves on the court and are fighting for their positions,” Coach Archuleta said. “It’s about growing, learning and building that team chemistry. Not so much about wins and losses.”