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It was the first game of the season, to be sure.
Tuesday night, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team opened its 2013-2014 campaign at home against the St. Michael’s Horsemen.
And while Los Alamos showed some pluck, particularly in the key, Los Alamos still has some work to do in several areas, not the least of which is shooting.
Los Alamos shot just 21.4 percent on the evening and converted just 7 of 19 attempts from the foul line as it dropped its opener 33-26 at Griffith Gymnasium.
Both teams were shaky throughout Tuesday’s contest, but the Horsemen would settle in a little better to start the second half. The Horsemen went on a 9-0 run in the first 4-plus minutes of the third quarter to break a 16-16 tie at the half and would hold onto that lead despite a mini-run to cut the lead back to 4 points early in the fourth quarter.
The Hilltoppers will have another contest against another tough Class 3A opponent to follow up Tuesday night’s loss. They will take on the Pojoaque Valley Elkettes Saturday in Jacona.
Los Alamos had plenty of chances against St. Mike’s. Its guards were able to penetrate the St. Mike’s defense and get some good looks, but the Hilltopper offense couldn’t get much to fall.
The Hilltoppers were held to three points in the third quarter and made only four shots from the floor in the second half.
Their defense, however, kept them in the game most of the way. Except for St. Mike’s run in the third quarter, the Hilltoppers kept the spread to no more than five points and held the Horsemen to just two points in a four-minute span in the second quarter to take a brief 15-13 lead.
One of St. Mike’s big offensive weapons, center Alex Groenwald, was a non-factor down low. Groenwald, who had the first bucket of the game, was held to just six points.
Groenwald was constantly harassed by the Hilltoppers’ interior defense and by guard McKenzie Logan, who had a big showing on the defensive end, finishing with 8 steals.
Los Alamos forced 22 St. Mike’s turnovers, but coughed up the ball 23 times itself.
On the offensive end down low, Hilltopper Kiana Zerr had a game-high 10 points. Unfortunately for the Hilltoppers, no one else had more than three points and the Hilltoppers didn’t convert from beyond the 3-point circle until Kristen Paulsen hit with 21.4 seconds left.
Cristina Gabaldon paced St. Mike’s with 9 points. She and Briona Vigil hit big free throws in the fourth quarter.
St. Michael’s 33, Los Alamos 26
St. Michael’s (1-0): Cristina Gabaldon 3-6 3-4 9, Briona Vigil 2-7 3-3 8, Jackie Lara 1-5 2-4 4, Alex Groenwald 2-12 2-4 6, Eileen Mitchell 1-3 0-0 2, Ariana Lovato 0-4 1-2 1, Latysha Archuleta 1-1 0-0 3, Jordan Fernandez 0-0 0-0 0, Lanie Serna 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 10-38 11-17 33.
Los Alamos (0-1): Krysta Salazar 1-6 1-3 3, Amber Logan 0-5 3-4 3, Kiana Zerr 4-9 2-4 10, Alison Crane 1-1 0-0 2, McKenzie Logan 1-11 1-6 3, Elena Atencio 0-1 0-0 0, Kristen Paulsen 1-3 0-2 3, Jordan Duran 0-0 0-0 0, Shannon Doyle 0-1 0-0 0, Makela Jones 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 9-42 7-19 26.
3-point goals – St. Michael’s 2-10 (Archuleta 1-1, Vigil 1-5, Gabaldon 0-2, Lara 0-1, Lovato 0-1), Los Alamos 1-11 (Paulsen 1-1, A. Logan 0-4, M. Logan 0-4, Salazar 0-1, Doyle 0-1). Total fouls – St. Michael’s 15, Los Alamos 15. Fouled out – M. Logan (4th, :04).