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Girls basketball: LA takes two of three at tourney

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By Mike Cote

Following a rough start to the Albuquerque Public Schools Invitational Tournament, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls varsity basketball team was able to bounce back to earn two solid victories.After Thursday’s 28-point loss to the Eldorado Eagles, the Hilltoppers went right back to work in the consolation bracket Friday against the Albuquerque High School Bulldogs.The Bulldogs hit seven 3-pointers in the first half against Los Alamos and held a late lead before Los Alamos earned a come-from-behind 40-38 victory.On Saturday, Los Alamos’ defense held a tough Manzano team in check throughout the first half, keeping the team in the game after a rough start. The Hilltoppers would go on to take a 48-37 decision in the tournament’s fifth-place game.Los Alamos head coach Gerry Washburn said he was very happy with the way his team was able to put a rough game behind it and concentrate on its own game against Albuquerque and Manzano.“We talked about the positive things we got out of Eldorado,” Washburn said. “We left the gym feeling we made progress. We came back to win that Albuquerque game, which we could’ve lost.”The Hilltoppers trailed Friday night’s contest by six points with about two minutes left.With time winding down, the ’Toppers made a couple of defensive stops, setting up a 3-pointer from Taylor Ealey with under a minute to go.With about 15 seconds remaining, Los Alamos guard Keyla Tumas picked up a steal, went the length of the court to score and got fouled on the play to put Los Alamos ahead to stay.Washburn said not only did the defense stop the Bulldogs when it needed to late, but also made the adjustments after the halftime break to slow down the Bulldogs’ hot outside shooting.In Saturday’s game, the Hilltopper offense got off to a sluggish start, managing only four points in the first quarter, but the ’Topper defense was again up to the challenge, holding Manzano’s Monarchs to just seven points on the other end.The offense did get on track in the second quarter, as the Hilltoppers put up 18 points to take the lead going into the break.“Defensively, I couldn’t have asked for a better quarter than that first quarter,” Washburn said. “Offensively, we needed to get the kinks out. After the first quarter, we started taking what they were giving us, which was really nice.” Ealey finished Saturday’s game with 20 points and Sarah Ethridge had 14 to lead Los Alamos (4-2). Whitney Polosky had 14 points for Manzano (3-2).Los Alamos will have an interesting match-up waiting for it when it gets home Tuesday in the form of the Aztec Tigers.The Tigers (2-0) are the defending Class AAAA champions, but they lost several seniors off their state title squad. This season, they are comprised primarily of juniors and sophomores.Tuesday’s game has an early start time. Due to travel considerations, the game is scheduled to tip at 5:30 p.m.