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In perhaps its best all-around performance of the season, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team picked up a much-needed win Thursday night.
Los Alamos led Thursday’s game, the first round of the Joe Armijo Invitational, virtually the entire way, taking a 54-43 victory over the Santa Fe Demons to advance in the championship bracket.
The Hilltoppers were scheduled to take on the host Albuquerque Academy Chargers at 2:45 p.m. today in the tournament semifinals.
Los Alamos head coach Tarah Logan, who has watched her team struggle offensively for much of the early part of the season — heading into Thursday’s game its best point production in any contest had been 40 points — challenged her squad to take more shots and try to break 60 points. The team just missed on the second goal, but was able to come through with the first.
All of Los Alamos’ players scored in Thursday’s game, including some whom Logan said never seem to shoot the ball.
The Hilltoppers were led by Taylor Ealey, who posted a double-double against the Demons. Ealey scored 16 points and grabbed a whopping 19 rebounds to lead the team effort.
“This game we pretty much controlled the whole way,” Logan said. “This may be a big stepping stone for them.”
Los Alamos (2-3) had played a rough early season schedule heading into Thursday’s contest, in which it has faced a state champion, two runners-up from last season and a team on the short list for state championship contention this season.
Santa Fe (3-4) went into Thursday’s game having won three straight, two of those coming against Los Alamos’ District 2AAAA rival Capital.
Kayci Harmon, one of the players Logan said is hoping will get more involved with the offense, had a season-high eight points Thursday. Sarah Worland finished with six.
The Joe Armijo tournament continues through Saturday at Academy.
In other tournament action Thursday, Academy knocked off Manzano to advance to Friday’s semifinal contest 44-35. In the other half of the bracket, Cibola topped Hope Christian 63-38 and Eldorado beat St. Pius X 44-35.
Academy could prove to be another tough test for Los Alamos.
“They look good,” Logan said. “They have 2-3 players that can handle the ball. (Against Manzano) they drove the ball, drove the ball, drove the ball. It’s going to be a physical game. It should be interesting.”