By Arnie Leshin
It’s been automatic for the boy’s basketball teams of St. Michael’s and Los Alamos to meet up every season for non-district games, and it continued Tuesday night when the visiting Hilltoppers dropped a 52-43 count to the Horsemen.
It was the season opener for St. Michael’s in Dave Rodriguez’ second year as head coach, while Los Alamos has lost all three of its starts.
As for the rivalry, it dates back to 2005-06 when the Horsemen won via a 59-39 score. The next season the contest was not played, but since than the schools have met the last 11 times, with the Hilltoppers winning two-straight after losing seven in a row and eight of the last 11.
But this time the night belonged to St. Michael’s as it came on with a late rush following a tight test that went back and forth. One reason was the Horsemen committing 17 turnovers, having trouble handling the ball. Still, they were in front 40-34 with 6:30 left in the fourth quarter.
But Los Alamos responded to move within 44-42 with 3:30 remaining, and with the home team taking better control of the ball, the lead was 46-44 in the final minute. Then, with 41 seconds to go, Connor Glatz continued his impressive game by scoring inside to increase the advantage to 48-44. Then he followed up with an identical play 17 seconds later and the unsung hero tossed in his eighth point to up the lead to 50-45.
The next stop for the Horsemen is Thursday when they play in the annual Bobby Rodriguez Capital City at Santa Fe High. The late Rodriguez was the father of Dave Rodriguez, former Desert Academycoach Ernie Rodriguez, and Santa Fe Prep coach Mark Rodriguez, and the tournament was named in his honor after many successful years as a basketball coach.
Meanwhile, Los Alamos and St. Michael’s go their separate ways, the Toppers in 4A and the Horsemen in 3A.
At Santa Fe Prep, the Griffins evened their record at 1-1 by getting past Menual, 67-62 in non-district play. Missing starting seniors Sam Sparks, Sean Coles and Dillon Abeyta, Prep had dropped its opener, 64-29, to Escalante. But this time, Sparks led the way with 24 points, Coles added 20, and his freshman brother, Ben, turned in 14 points.
Friday night, the Griffins are home to Espanola McCurdy in a non-district match-up.
In Albuquerque, visiting Desert Academy held off a late challenge by Cottonwood Classical to gain an 82-81 triumph. The Wildcats were up 62-49 before the Cougars came on to make it close, and in fact trailed 32-20 in the second quarter. Liam Otero turned in a game-high 27 points for Desert Academy,
At Larson gym in Santa Fe, Monte del Sol rolled over New Mexico School for the Deaf, 60-37, after its early lead was trimmed to 44-32 after three quarters. But in the fourth quarter, the Dragons closed on a 16-5 run to even their mark at 1-1.
. . . In girls play, Santa Fe Indian School had no problem disposing of visiting Aztec, 65-32, in its season opener. The Braves soared in the first quarter by taking a 20-3 lead in the non-district contest. Camille Lewis showed the way with a team-high 14 points and Hunter Garcia added 10 as the Tigers dropped to 1-3.
At Larson gym, New Mexico School for the Deaf won handily, 36-11, over Monte del Sol behind 12 rebounds and five points from Lindsay Hand, while sophomore teammate Victoria Baca had a game-high 16 points and Myra Malone tossed in eight points and took down seven rebounds. The Roadrunners led all the way.
Up at the Griffin gym in Los Alamos, Santa Fe High evened its record at 2-2 by turning back the Hilltoppers, 64-56, after being down 35-23 at halftime under new head coach Nate Morris. It was a 24-6 scoring burst in the third quarter that put the Demonettes back in the game.
Senior wing Taylor Salazar, retuning after missing all of last season after surgery on her knee, tossed in a trio of 3s in the opening quarter and scored 17 of her team’s 23 points in the first half.
Sophomore Heaven Martinez added 11 third-quarter points to highlight the run that closed the halftime gap. After three quarters, the Demonettes were in front 47-41, and then held off a late challenge by the home team in the non-district contest.