.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Girls basketball: LA loses surprise home game by 10

-A A +A
By Mike Cote

Oops.At about 3 p.m. Saturday, Gerry Washburn, head coach of the Los Alamos Hilltopper basketball team, was trying to pile his varsity onto the team bus to Albuquerque, when another bus rolled into the parking lot of Griffith Gymnasium.It was the Highland Hornets, coming up to Los Alamos from Albuquerque, looking for a game.But the impromptu home game went about as well as the travel plans for Los Alamos, as it fell to Highland 61-51 Saturday night.The sparse home crowd got a chance to watch one of the top ballers in the state, Deeva Vaughn, who didn’t disappoint. Vaughn, a 6-foot senior, scored 24 points, hitting 8 of her 13 shots from the floor.Los Alamos struggled early but improved in the second half, actually outscoring Highland after the break, but not by enough.It was another slow start for the Hilltoppers that caused the trouble. In their previous outing against Manzano, the ’Toppers managed just four points in the first quarter.While Saturday’s start wasn’t quite that slow, it wasn’t the way Washburn wanted his squad to open the game.“I don’t know how much was us being messed up from not traveling and how much was Highland after beating Cibola feeling good about themselves,” Washburn said. “Sometimes you ride that a long way.”One big plus coming out of Saturday’s game was that four Hilltoppers got into double-figures scoring, the first time this season Los Alamos has had more than two players hitting that mark.Sarah Ethridge helped open up the ’Topper offense in the second half with her penetration from the top of the key. Ethridge finished with 13 points, tying her with Bryanna Richins for the team lead.To open the game, the Hornets (2-4) came out running, pushing the ball up the floor, often at a furious pace, and by the start of the second quarter had the Hilltoppers doing much the same.The ’Toppers (4-3) heaved up eight 3-point shots in the second quarter — 11 for the first half — and connected on just two of those, both by Tyree Richins.Meanwhile, Vaughn dominated the interior on the Highland offensive end, knocking in 14 points in the first half alone, as well as picking up a block and two steals when Los Alamos tried to go inside on her on the other end.Highland showed off its impressive inside-out game early, with Vaughn providing the offense in the paint and an array of shooters, notably Dallas Norman and Taylor Dennis hitting from outside.Highland hit five 3s before the halftime break, at which it led 35-22.Despite the first half struggles, Keyla Tumas had a fine opening half, taking two steals the length of the floor for buckets, and grabbing two offensive rebounds, one of which she dished out to Bryanna Richins for a bucket with 25 seconds left in the first quarter.Tumas, despite her stature — she’s listed at 5-foot-4 — has been one of the most impressive Hilltoppers of the early season, providing oft-needed spark from the bench.“Keyla right now represents the heart of this team,” Washburn said. “It’s hard for kids not to play hard when someone is playing as hard as Keyla is right now…she’s like hitting the nitrous on a drag strip.”In the second half, thanks in no small part to Ethridge’s driving, Los Alamos created some open looks from both the inside and the outside. For her part, Ethridge had 11 of her 13 after the break, and finished the game with six assists.Also getting into double-figures Saturday were Tyree Richins, who hit three 3s on her way to 11 points, and Taylor Ealey, who finished with 10, including a pair of threes in the second half.