Tigers escape with overtime victory in Los Alamos

Taos is looking toward next district matchup against Española Valley

By Matthew Narvaiz
sports@taosnews.com
Posted 2/5/20

The crowd was loud - especially the student section for the Los Alamos Hilltoppers - and it made for a fierce game between two district rivals on Friday evening (Jan. 31).

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Tigers escape with overtime victory in Los Alamos

Taos is looking toward next district matchup against Española Valley

Posted

The crowd was loud - especially the student section for the Los Alamos Hilltoppers - and it made for a fierce game between two district rivals on Friday evening (Jan. 31).

Because of the intensity in the Los Alamos gymnasium, the Hilltoppers played to the tune and had themselves a game in which they hit ten 3-pointers and on many occasions disrupted the flow of the visiting Taos Tigers.

But the Tigers (16-5, 3-0 District 2-4A) came in clutch when it mattered - and even had some timely 3-pointers of their own, mainly from junior wing Anthony Padilla - to keep themselves in the game, and eventually to take home an 85-75 victory in overtime.

The win moved the Tigers to 3-0 in District 2-4A action, the only other undefeated team being Española Valley. The Tigers and Sundevils face off on Thursday (Feb. 6) at 7 p.m. in Otero Gymnasium, and only one team will remain undefeated in league play.

"Nevertheless, that is not a bad team," head coach Hernando Chavez said. "You got to credit Los Alamos. They're a solid team. Any team that can roll out and hit 10 threes on any given night - they're dangerous."

Taos was actually the first team to score after making two free throws that came by way of a technical on Los Alamos. The foul was called due to a dunk in pregame warmups, which is against NMAA rules.

But shortly after that, the Hilltoppers started to get going. In the first couple of minutes, their trap defense forced two Taos turnovers and helped them jump out to a 7-2 lead.

Elijah Ortiz of Los Alamos hit another 3-pointer later in the frame to put his team up 18-7.

Taos scored the first five points of the frame while Los Alamos struggled a bit. However, Wesley Stanfield of Los Alamos did hit two 3-pointers that kept the game tight.

Padilla, though, hit back-to-back 3-pointers and it eventually gave the Tigers the lead with about a minute before the half. Khweis scored on a fast break seconds before halftime to put Taos up 29-28.

But it was in the fourth quarter when things got really interesting. In the early goings, Taos was able to maintain a lead. But later in the frame, a layup and free throw from Stanfield put the Hilltoppers up 60-59. Stanfield then hit a 3-pointer to put up his team 68-61 with about two minutes to go.

Taos, though, got some scoring from Angel Limas and saw him score some critical points in the final minutes. A charging call was called on Stanfield with about a minute, and Taos took the opportunity to come back in the game.

Down 69-67, Abdul Khweis was able to make a layup in the final seconds to send the game into overtime.

From there, Taos continued its dominance and rallied to a victory.

"We talk about staying steady no matter what," Chavez said.

Chavez said that most teams in Class 4A are in a close race, and that any team can win on any given night. However, Española Valley (13-7, 3-0), a team that is projected to finish at the top of the district like Taos, will face the Tigers on Thursday and it will likely be a physical game.

"Española Valley is the type of team that if you start out slow, you may never get back in that game," Chavez said.

Other than wanting his team to get better at starting out games fast, Chavez said his team has had a positive mindset since the start of district action.

"We feel good," Chavez said. "The guys are really positive right now. They're very well aware we haven't accomplished anything. Their job isn't done."

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