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Full-court press leads Volcano Vista past LAHS

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By Phil Scherer

The Los Alamos High School girls basketball team knows what its weaknesses are. Now, the challenge for head coach Josh Archuleta and his players is to overcome them on game days.

Tuesday evening against Volcano Vista High School, the team’s weaknesses with handling pressure defense and defending against fast break offense were on display, as the Hilltoppers fell 60-23.

It was the second time in three days that similar issues kept LAHS from staying in a game.

Last Saturday, the Hilltoppers fell 60-27 to Pojoaque Valley High School.

Volcano Vista and Pojoaque Valley play similar, full-court press defense, and Archuleta said his team knew exactly what was coming. The girls just had no way of stopping it.

“The plan was to break the press and be patient,” Archuleta said. “And for the first couple minutes of the game, it looked like we were going to make it a game. And then all of a sudden we stopped doing what we had practiced for two and a half hours yesterday.”

Midway through the first quarter LAHS began trying to dribble through the press, and the turnovers followed. After one quarter, the Hilltoppers trailed 20-6.

“They exposed us, and we started to get frustrated,” Archuleta said.

Another thing Archuleta said the team practiced the day before is sending one girl back on defense every time a shot is taken to avoid easy layups by the other team.

“We did that for a couple sets, but after that they just started going layup, after layup, after layup,” Archuleta said.

The issues on the offensive end of the floor increased in the second quarter, as the Hilltoppers were only able to score two points, and took only six shots as the turnovers occurred more frequently.

At halftime, Volcano Vista led 38-8.

Throughout the second half, the issues remained.

Although the Hilltoppers were able to maintain possession more consistently, the team was unable to consistently make stops on defense.

All night, the shooting of Volcano Vista was accurate from inside and outside. Shay Smith and Mariana Baros, two of the team’s top players, combined for 31 points.

Smith dominated the first quarter, going 3-5 from the field and scoring eight points.
Baros was consistently strong throughout the evening, knocking down a pair of three-point shots, and going 9-15 from the field. She finished with a game-high 21 points.

Starters Jaden Chischillie and Storm Anaya-Gonzales were also strong for Volcano Vista. Chischillie scored nine points, and Anaya-Gonzales added seven of her own.

After three quarters, Volcano Vista led 50-14, and cruised to a 60-23 win.

Despite the lopsided score, Archuleta said he was proud of his team for continuing to cheer each other on, and continuing to play hard even when the outcome was no longer in doubt.

“Most teams just sit down and get bad attitudes, stop cheering and stop talking, so I give it to my team for having enough heart to finish the game even though they knew it was over,” Archuleta said.

For the Hilltoppers, Becca Green led the team in scoring with eight points and played well on the inside.

Susana Gallegos added five points, and connected on all three of her free throw attempts.

For the game, the Hilltoppers shot 8-44 from the field.

Next up for LAHS is a road game Saturday evening against Valencia High School. The varsity game will begin at 7 p.m.
Valencia is 0-2 this season, with losses to Gallup High School and Las Cruces High School. Most recently, the Jaguars lost to Las Cruces 61-26 on Tuesday.

Last year, the Hilltoppers fell to Valencia 32-24 on the road.