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The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team was nipped Saturday afternoon by the Aztec Tigers in the Four Corners area.
Los Alamos came back from a 28-15 deficit at the break, holding the Tigers (4-2) to just 5 points in the third quarter, but fell short in its rally, losing 41-40.
While the Hilltoppers outscored the Tigers 25-13 in the second half, they couldn’t overcome a slow first half.
Los Alamos head coach Tarah Logan said the team got into some early foul trouble in the first half which slowed it down considerably.
“In the first half, the refs were not helping,” she said. “We got caught complaining about them.”
Once Los Alamos’ players hashed it out amongst themselves during the break, things went a lot more smoothly in the second half.
The Hilltoppers (4-5) switched into a 1-3-1 defense which it has had some success with in recent games. Saturday’s contest was no exception.
Logan said she likes having her big girls out on the wing in the 1-3-1 alignment and keeps point guard Tyree Richins in the back. Richins, Logan said, has the quickness to react to penetration and at 5-foot-8, isn’t exactly small.
Taylor Ealey and Bryanna Richins finished with a team-high 11 points, with Ealey hitting three 3-pointers in the contest. Shelby Courtright and Kayci Harmon picked up five points each and Tyree Richins and Sarah Worland each dropped in four.
Saturday’s game wasn’t the first time this season the Hilltoppers have started out slow, something that cost them in losses to Pojoaque and Kirtland Central and had them struggling the night earlier against Piedra Vista (2-5).
How can Los Alamos get on track faster?
“That’s a darn good question,” Logan said. “We’ve been talking about that ourselves. We’ve had two games back-to-back where that’s been an issue.”
Friday night at home, Los Alamos came back from an early hole to win 37-28.
The key in Friday night’s win was foul shooting. Bryanna Richins was 8-for-8 from the free throw line and Ealey went 4-for-5 to help seal the win.
Los Alamos spent most of the week of preparation focused on the Piedra Vista contest. Piedra Vista’s Panthers came back from a double-digit hole midway through the third quarter to knock Los Alamos out of the state AAAA playoffs in the first round at Griffith Gymnasium last season.
Despite the loss Saturday, Logan said things are starting to look up.
“I actually feel pretty good,” she said. “We knew December was going to be a hard month. We’re coming out of December 4-5, we finished second at Albuquerque (Academy) and we’ve played a lot of really good teams. The girls have improved every game.”
Los Alamos will play at the Goddard Invitational, which starts Monday in Roswell.