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SANTA FE — Despite earning a comfortable 15-point victory in its first meeting against the Santa Fe Demons, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team wasn’t taking anything for granted Wednesday night.
That turned out to be a good thing.
With under 10 seconds remaining in regulation, Santa Fe’s Alix Jeantette, who hadn’t taken a shot all game long, buried a long-range 3-pointer to force overtime at Toby Roybal Gymnasium.
But in the overtime period, the Hilltopper defense, which had been stout throughout the contest, held the Demons to just two points as the Hilltoppers came away with a 36-32 victory.
The win kept Los Alamos’ hopes alive of a regular season District 2AAAA title. It will get a shot to force a tie with district-leading Española Valley at home Saturday night.
But Los Alamos (11-11 overall, 5-1 in 2AAAA) had to fight tooth-and-nail to get by Santa Fe Wednesday, particularly with its offense being virtually non-existent in the first half.
“In my opinion, our defense is what won this game for us,” Los Alamos head coach Tarah Logan said. “Who could’ve predicted (Jeantette) would chuck up a 3-pointer at the end? … It came down to toughness, who was going to get the ball and who wanted it more.”
Los Alamos managed only seven points in the first half Wednesday and just two points in about a 10-1/2 minute stretch. Only Marissa Higdon’s free throw with 22.5 seconds left kept Los Alamos from being shut out in the second quarter.
Fortunately, the Hilltopper defense was also up to the task, holding the Demons to just nine first half points.
In the game, the Demons (11-12 overall, 2-3 in 2AAAA) converted nine field goals, seven of them from 3-point range. The Demons finished 2-for-24 inside the 3-point circle Wednesday.
Los Alamos senior Kamille Chavez, one of the team’s emotional leaders, said the going was tough but her team came through when it needed to.
“Throughout the whole game I kept thinking, ‘we need this, we need this,’” Chavez said. “Santa Fe didn’t give it to us. Española’s not going to give us anything, either.”
In the overtime period, the Hilltoppers — who reached the .500 mark for the first time this season Wednesday — got a huge offensive rebound-and-putback from Tina Radosevich with 2:15 remaining, giving them a 33-32 advantage. Radosevich beat the Santa Fe defense to the opposite side of the basket off a missed shot and went straight back up, giving the Hilltoppers what would ultimately prove to be the game-winning points.
Both teams squandered chances to win the game in regulation. Santa Fe missed three routine layups early in the fourth quarter, while Los Alamos misfired on the front end of three 1-and-1 chances with time winding down in the fourth and went just 6-for-13 from the foul line in the final eight minutes.
“This one was too close for comfort,” Chavez said. “In our past district games, we’ve had good leads. It’s hard when someone’s always on your back.”
Radosevich finished with nine points for Los Alamos, while Higdon and Erin Kirk both had seven.
Miriah Solano had seven for Santa Fe, while Selena Valencia added six. Gabby Garcia, one of Santa Fe’s top players who spent virtually the entire first meeting between the teams in foul trouble, never got on track Wednesday, managing just four points, all from the foul line.