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Girls basketball: LA comes up big, tops Taos 49-37

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By Mike Cote

The District 2AAAA regular season title is within arm’s length for the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls varsity basketball team.Los Alamos earned a 49-37 decision Friday night in Taos, improving its district mark to 5-0, and can clinch at least a share of the 2AAAA title with a win Wednesday at home against Española Valley. Because scores from two Capital Jaguar games have gone unreported, it’s unclear whether the Hilltoppers will win the regular season chase outright with Wednesday’s win or might still need a win Saturday against Capital to officially claim the title.Hilltopper head coach Gerry Washburn said Friday’s game was the most complete game the Hilltoppers had played all season on both sides of the ball. The big thing for the Hilltoppers was they were able to show patience on the offensive side of the ball for four quarters, something the coaching staff had been expressing to the players from day one.Los Alamos shooting guard Sarah Ethridge had perhaps her best game of the season. Not only did she throw in a game-high 18 points, but her interior passing to the Hilltopper posts — including a pair of nifty no-look passes to Bryanna Richins — was spot-on.Washburn said his team could’ve panicked early in the game. Taos’ Tigers (10-12 overall, 2-2 in 2AAAA) packed the middle of the paint on defense, hoping to force the Hilltoppers to get away from their bread-and-butter inside game.Instead, Los Alamos (13-9 overall) was able to work the ball around and not rush into anything until an opportunity to move inside presented itself.The two teams were tied 12-12 after one quarter, thanks mostly to Tiger forward Summer Mirabel, who scored 10 of her team-high 15 points in the opening quarter, hitting a pair of 3-pointers in the opening frame.Los Alamos, for its part, took a few opportunities to run, but Washburn said the team picked its times to run well and didn’t get out of control.For the game, Los Alamos turned the ball over only six times.“We didn’t get impatient,” Washburn said. “It was nice to see us play that way…it’s a ballgame they can be proud of.”Defensively, Los Alamos held Taos to single-digit scoring in the other three quarters of the ballgame. With the outcome of the game still in doubt after the third quarter, Los Alamos gave up just seven points to the Tigers to shut the door.Richins finished with 14 points Friday.