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The Runnin’ ‘Dog basketball team charged back from a slow first half to take their Poe Corn Invitational opener over Los Alamos Thursday in Roswell, while the Lady Bulldogs were unable to overcome their scoring woes versus Bloomfield in the first round of the Los Lunas Holiday Tournament.

The Artesia boys stumbled a bit out of the gate Thursday evening against the Hilltoppers at Roswell High, and Los Alamos took full advantage, racking up eight unanswered.

Chaney Hardt was the first Bulldog to shake off the holiday rust, following a layup with a pair of three-pointers, and a drive to the basket by Cody Smith and Trent Taylor free throw helped keep Artesia within seven going into the second, 18-11.

Smith logged a layup off the turnover to open that quarter, but six straight from the ‘Toppers made the ‘Dogs’ deficit double digits, 24-13. Los Alamos would outscore Artesia 6-2 in the final minutes of the half to lead 30-15 at the break.

Following what was likely a lively halftime discussion with head coach Michael Mondragon, the boys in orange came out with renewed vigor in the third.

Joe Willingham set up shop in the paint and proceeded to deliver three buckets and an and-one that, combined with a pair of Luke Nelson layups, one apiece from Smith and Clay Houghtaling, and two more big treys by Hardt, turned the tables and gave Artesia its first lead, 40-38, heading into the fourth.

Jumpers by Tyler Greewood, Hardt and Houghtaling, and a breakaway layup from the latter, to start the final eight minutes gave the Bulldogs breathing room to work with, 48-38, and despite capping off an uncharacteristically dismal performance from the free-throw line in the final minutes of play, that allowed them to close out the first-round win, 52-43.

Hardt led all scorers on the contest with 16 points, followed by Willingham with 12, while Troy Hammock posted 13 for the ‘Toppers.

The Lady Bulldogs got off to a similarly slow start Thursday afternoon against Bloomfield.
Artesia managed just two from the field in the opening quarter, but with both coming in the form of three-pointers by Alexa Riggs, combined with a 4-5 showing from the free-throw line, they were able to stay within a point of the Lady Bobcats, 11-10.

That would change in the second period, however, as baskets by Gracie Puentes and Elisa Cardenas weren’t enough to match a 12-point showing from Bloomfield, sending the Lady ‘Dogs into the locker room down 23-15.

Unfortunately, Artesia’s shooting wouldn’t improve in the third, as a buckets and a free throw from Stacia Martinez and a pair from the stripe by Puentes comprised their offensive output and sent them into the final minutes down 33-20.

A three and a free throw by Brehnan Davis and a basket apiece from Martinez, Puentes and Kali Crandall helped Artesia match their opening-quarter total in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to gain ground on the Bobcats, who logged the 43-30 win.

Riggs and Puentes finished with seven points each for the Lady ‘Dogs, while Micaela Abeyta had 11 for Bloomfield.

With the loss, the Artesia girls dropped to 4-4 on the season and into a consolation bracket semifinal against Gadsden, who fell to Valencia 55-40 Thursday. The results of that 1:30 p.m. game were unavailable as of press time.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, improved to 5-3 and advance to a 6:30 p.m. District 4-AAAAA preview today against Roswell High in the Coyote Den.