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The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team hung tough with the No. 1 seed in the Class 4A state tournament Friday.
Unfortunately, the Grants Pirates simply had too many weapons.
Los Alamos played hard-nosed defense in the first half of Friday’s game, limiting the looks of Grants’ most dangerous player, center Teige Zeller, near the basket.
Unfortunately, Zeller, who stands at 6-foot-2, was able to field some entry passes and get to the foul line in the first half.
Los Alamos also suffered from a cold shooting night, being held to 15 points in the first half as top-seeded Grants earned a 62-44 victory in Grants.
It was the second straight time the Hilltoppers’ season ended at Grants by an 18-point margin.
Los Alamos, which finishes 2011-12 with a mark of 12-16, had some success going to its own 6-footer, Hayley Each, who finished with a team-high 17 points. Monika Teter added nine points and Allison Crane and McKenzie Logan both finished with six.
Zeller, who spent a good portion of the night at the foul line, had 23 points Friday. Sydney Mares finished with 13 points and Julie Gallegos had 11 points.
Grants will advance to play eighth-seeded Artesia in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round in The Pit.
The Hilltoppers’ defense set the team up with some good chances on offense but its shooting never got on track. It was held to single-digit scoring throughout the first three quarters.
The Pirates (25-2) stayed steady on offense and put together a 10-2 run in the last four minutes of the first half – after the Hilltoppers had cut an 11-point lead down to six – and a 9-2 run through the first five minutes of the third quarter.
The game was the finale in the careers of three Hilltopper seniors, Teter, Marissa Higdon and Christine Larribas.
Friday was a bad night for all of four of District 2-4A’s entries into the tournament, including fifth-seeded Española Valley, which was stunned by 12th-seeded Miyamura, 45-36 in Española.
Española Valley was expected by many to go deep in the tournament following its 24-3 season and District 2 championship, but was held to its second-lowest point total of the season by Miyamura’s Patriots.
Santa Fe, too, had high hopes after one of its best regular seasons in some time, but took it on the chin at Artesia, losing 64-38. Bernalillo, which finished third in the District 2 tournament, nearly pulled off a big upset, but was nipped by third-seeded Piedra Vista, 31-29. Bernalillo played some of its best basketball late in the year, including topping Los Alamos in the teams’ final two meetings.
Special thanks to KRSN AM 1490 for its help with this report.