‘Toppers Split Albuquerque Road Swing

Michael Naranjo-13, Ivan Balakirev-25 and Brandon Duran-21 gang up against a Sartan shooter under the Sartan net in the closing minutes of the game. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com
By RJ Montaño
Los Alamos Daily Post

ALBUQUERQUE – The Hilltopper Boy’s basketball team split a pair of road games against two of the metro’s top teams in Albuquerque.
In the process, the ‘Toppers moved up the rankings to No. 5 on the MaxPreps rankings, and No. 9 on the NMOTC rankings.
On Thursday, Los Alamos went into fourth ranked St. Pius and picked up a 70-56 statement win over the Sartans.
“Things were working out for us defensively,” said head coach Mike Kluk. The ‘Toppers held St. Pius well below their season average in points while turning the defense into offense.
Picking up a win over St. Pius not only helps now, but also in the long run.
“We want to try to stay in that top eight all season to make the playoffs and possibly get a home game. Beating the teams ranked ahead of us will help,” Kluk said. The ‘Toppers were lead by senior Antonio Trujillo with 20 points, and seniors Troy Hammock and Michael Naranjo who each chipped in 13.
Sophomore Gavin Campos added nine points shooting an impressive 80 percent from the field.
Los Alamos wasn’t as efficient on Friday night at Eldorado High School dropping their match 92-46. The Eagles jumped out to a quick 28-8 first quarter lead, hitting 7 of 7 three pointers.
The Eagles hit 16 total three pointers in the game, while also hitting an impressive 14 of 15 free throws in the game.
“They came out and punked us,” Kluk said about Eldorado’s quick start. “Two days in a row traveling to Albuquerque, some of our guys had tests and finals today, I don’t think we were mentally prepared and tired, but I’m not going to make excuses for them.”
The ‘Toppers bright spot was sophomore Gavin Campos who was a spark off the bench attacking the rim to lead Los Alamos with 14 points. Senior Antonio Trujillo added 12 points as the only other ‘Topper to score in double figures. “We have to get tougher,” Kluk added about his team. Los Alamos took two charges in the game, but avoided contact in the loss.
Los Alamos returns to action next Thursday at the Poe Corn Tournament in Roswell. The ‘Toppers face Artesia in the first round at Roswell High School.