The Las Animas Trojans hit the hardwood a few days early in respect to winter break. With a game on Friday, the teams took the court a full three days before school started for the spring semester in Las Animas. This meant a big crowd for both the boys’ and girls’ matchups against rival Swink.

The first varsity game featured the girls in battle. The Lady Lions came out swinging – scoring 21 unanswered in the first quarter. The Lady Trojans struggled against the Lions’ press throughout the game, and the Lady Lions didn’t let up until the middle of the fourth quarter, which had a CHSAA-sanctioned running clock. The final score ended heavily in favor of the Lady Lions: 66-12

The boys’ game was far more interesting for Swink and Las Animas fans alike. In rivalries, words and tempers flair, players play more physical, and the odds of blood on the court just seem to increase at an exponential rate.

Such was the case in the Trojans’ game against the Lions. In the first half, the teams had accumulated 23 total fouls, the Trojans had come back from a 10 point deficit, and Miles Rader nailed a last second three-point shot to put the Trojans up 23-22 at the half.

All four quarters involved peaks and valleys for the two teams. One such valley was a technical foul called on Swink after a shooting foul became a little more than a foul and words and shoves were exchanged. The Trojans made only one of the two free throws and couldn’t convert on the next possession.

But the entire game was down to the wire. Both teams had several opportunities – layups – to put the game away, but couldn’t manage to hit the nail on the head. Finally, with seconds left, the Lions made a second-chance layup after an offensive rebound to go up 51-49 and win the match.

Rader led the team with 13 points, Devon Frazier was close behind him with 12, and Cutter Nichols aided with 10 rebounds. A notable statistic, a game changer if you will, is the Trojans’ free throw percentage. The Trojans shot a mere 4-for-20 from the line. That is right on 20 percent. Had the Trojans converted on just half, the game would have ended in their favor.

This week, the Trojans play back-to-back in the Trojan Gymnasium. Today (Thursday), they host the Rocky Ford Meloneers at 5 p.m., and on Friday the Trojans host new Santa Fe League members, the Holly Wildcats, at 5 p.m.