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Making its last home appearance before heading out on a grueling, month-long road trip, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team was hoping to get going on the right foot.
With a big defensive effort in the first quarter and some timely shooting in the second half, the Hilltoppers were able to do just that Saturday night.
Los Alamos built up an early lead against the Moriarty Pintos and held on down the stretch. Other than a couple of runs in the third quarter, which were quickly countered with some good execution in transition, Los Alamos earned a 42-31 win over, its first victory of the season.
It was a win Los Alamos wanted to get under its belt with two tournaments and what could prove to be a critical three-game set in the Four Corners area coming up in its immediate future.
On the defensive end, the Hilltoppers mainly held the smaller Pintos to one shot per possession, something they struggled to do in their home opener against Pojoaque a week earlier.
On offense, Los Alamos had a very good passing night, particularly in the interior of the Pinto defense. That passing led to some good looks as the Hilltoppers played efficiently, going 10-for-17 from the floor in the second half.
“We’re always working with our posts, we’re always looking for each other,” said Hilltopper Erin Kirk, who had three key assists in the second half. “Everyone of us has confidence in each other. That’s a big part of it.”
Kirk also knocked in a pair of shots in the third quarter to help quell a couple of runs by Moriarty. Kirk went coast-to-coast on a fast-break chance to close out the third quarter, upping Los Alamos’ advantage to 30-22 after the Pintos had cut the Hilltopper lead down to just four less than a minute earlier.
To help Los Alamos establish its edge, Monika Teter finished with 10 of her game-high 17 points in the first half. Teter dropped in five points in the first quarter, then converted an old-fashioned 3-point play in the second quarter to break a nearly 5-minute long dry spell.
For the game, Teter connected on 7 of 9 shooting from the floor. She and McKenzie Logan were the only two players for either team Saturday to reach double-figures.
Los Alamos (1-2) was playing short-handed Saturday, with starting guard Kamille Chavez suffering a concussion against St. Michael’s last week — her status for Thursday’s game against Sandia is still unknown — and both Madison Ahlers and Christine Larribas unavailable.
But learning to get the ball to the hot hand each night is something Los Alamos’ younger kids are making an effort to do.
“We’re getting better as the kids are getting used to each other,” Hilltopper head coach Tarah Logan said.