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Eight games wasn’t enough to decide the regular season district champ, so the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team and its counterpart from Española Valley will play a ninth.
Los Alamos held up its end of the bargain in forcing a 1-game playoff Friday night against Española Valley’s Sundevils with its victory over the Capital Jaguars.
The Jaguars gave the Hilltoppers problems throughout Friday night’s first half, but the Hilltoppers made good adjustments during the break and started to pull away in the third quarter.
Los Alamos won Friday’s contest 53-44.
Meanwhile, Española Valley topped Bernalillo, as expected, by a final of 64-32. The two teams will meet Monday at Capital’s Edward Ortiz Gymnasium. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Los Alamos head coach Tarah Logan said her team’s offense was frantic throughout the first half as Capital tried to push the pace early.
“We allowed them to rush us on our shots, our passing, everything,” she said. “In the second half, we didn’t allow them to do that.”
The two teams were knotted at 9 after one quarter. Los Alamos led by just 2 at the break.
In the second half, however, Los Alamos got settled back into its half-court offense, which it used about as effectively as it had all season late in its win over Española Valley last week.
Hilltopper forward Taylor Ealey had another big game Friday, dropping in 17 points, while her teammate on the other side of the lane, Shelby Courtright, finished with 14. Tyree Richins had 12 points from her guard spot.
The win put Los Alamos at 7-1 for the District 2AAAA regular season (18-8 overall) and helped force Monday’s playoff game. Los Alamos and Española Valley split their two regular season meeting with each team winning on its home floor.
Logan said her team is going to have to do the same types of things it did against Capital (10-12 overall, 3-5 in 2AAAA) against the Sundevils (22-4 overall, 7-1 in 2AAAA).
“The team that wins is going to be the one that controls the pace of the game,” Logan said. “Española wants a fast game. They want to fast-break. They want to go. We need to execute our offense. We need that.”
The winner of Monday’s game will clinch a Class AAAA state tournament bid.
Friday’s regular season concluding win was the sixth in a row for the Hilltoppers, who haven’t lost since their Jan. 30 loss in their first meeting with the Sundevils.