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The big challenge for the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team going into the season was finishing.
Two games in now, the big challenge continues to be finishing.
Los Alamos, in its home opener Thursday, again struggled to find the net. Los Alamos put up 62 shot attempts but only got nine of them to fall, a 14.5 percent clip.
Despite a solid defensive showing against a good team, the Hilltoppers took a 40-30 loss to the St. Michael’s Horsemen at Griffith Gymnasium. The Hilltoppers held the Horsemen to just 25 points through the first three quarters of the ballgame, but they managed just 20 points during that time themselves.
“We had plenty of shots, we just couldn’t convert,” Los Alamos head coach Tarah Logan said. “Obviously, there’s room for improvement, but last year we would’ve stopped shooting. They kept fighting (Thursday), battling for 32 minutes. It just wouldn’t fall.”
Los Alamos (0-2) managed just nine field goals in its opening game Saturday, as well, a 41-36 loss at Pojoaque.
The two teams were knotted at 9 after one period. St. Michael’s (1-0), however, held Los Alamos to just five points in the second quarter, taking a 22-14 lead into the break.
In the third quarter, Los Alamos’ defense allowed just three points to St. Michael’s, helped out in part by big rebounding efforts from Taylor Ealey and Shelby Courtright.
Ealey and Courtright, who are both listed at 5-foot-10, grabbed a combined 21 rebounds Thursday. Ealey was effective on both ends of the floor, as well, picking up 5 offensive rebounds.
Logan said Ealey’s good rebounding effort in the first two games of the season — she had seven rebounds against Pojoaque — is not an accident.
“We’ve actually made that a goal for her,” Logan said. “We’ve challenged her. We want her to be one of the top rebounders in the state.”
Ealey and Courtright, along with guard Sarah Worland, also led the offensive effort, each of them coming up with seven points. Point guard Tyree Richins added six points and Kamille Chavez finished with three, but that would be all the offense the Hilltoppers would muster.
The Hilltoppers had an opportunity to take control of the game in the third, with the defense holding the Horsemen for almost seven minutes without a basket, but couldn’t find the points on the other end to take advantage. They managed just six points of their own in the third quarter.
For the game, Los Alamos finished with 17 team steals to keep the contest close throughout.
Los Alamos will be on the road Saturday for its first game of the season against a Class AAAA opponent, Moriarty — both Pojoaque and St. Michael’s are Class AAA schools.
Moriarty dominated the team’s meeting last season at Griffith Gym, but Moriarty lost Brandi and Kristin Chavez, two of the premier players in the state, to graduation off that team. Moriarty lost big in its opener to Los Alamos’ District 2AAAA rival Capital, Nov. 24.