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Thursday night, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team picked up its first win of the season and it did so in dramatic fashion.
Trailing by two points in the final 10 seconds, Taylor Ealey hit a 3-pointer as the final buzzer sounded to give the Hilltoppers a 40-39 victory against the St. Michael’s Horsemen at Perez-Shelley Gymnasium.
Ealey grabbed a critical rebound with just 10 seconds remaining, then got free to take the final shot of the contest. Shelby Courtright’s two foul shots earlier in the quarter set up the last-second dramatics.
“It feels really good,” Los Alamos first-year head coach Tarah Logan said. “Everybody needed to know that we could do that together.”
Los Alamos (1-2) suffered two tough losses to open the season, but pulled off a big early-season win against St. Michael’s, the state Class AAA runner-up a season ago.
The Hilltoppers got off to a fast start Thursday, going up 12-5 after one period and held a 19-14 edge at the half.
In the third quarter, however, the Horsemen got back into the game, cutting Los Alamos’ edge to just one. Logan said St. Michael’s was able to take advantage of some Los Alamos breakdowns to get back within striking distance.
“We did that to ourselves,” she said. “We’re still struggling to find consistency, especially on offense. We’re still not very disciplined on offense yet.”
St. Michael’s guards also got some penetration through the lane in the second half to set up several Horsemen buckets.
Nevertheless, the Hilltopper defense held a traditionally-strong offense to just 39 points, that coming just two nights after limiting another powerful team — Kirtland Central — to just 42 points.
Offensively, eight of the 10 Hilltoppers who got into the game Thursday got into the scoring column.
Ealey and point guard Tyree Richins led the Hilltoppers with 11 points. Sarah Worland had five points, while Courtright and Bryanna Richins finished with four.
Bryanna Richins, who missed Tuesday’s game with strep throat, was limited to just eight minutes Thursday while she continues her recovery.
Logan said she was most pleased with the fact that her team held St. Mike’s to less than five offensive rebounds.
“After the Pojoaque game (Saturday), we had a team meeting and everybody laid out their goals,” Logan said. “One of the goals was rebounding, because that really hurt us against Pojoaque.”
She said for the past two games the team has been actively crashing the boards on both ends of the floor. It will need a similar rebounding effort Saturday when the top-ranked Moriarty Pintos visit Griffith Gymnasium.