Girls basketball: Toppers dominate at home

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By Mike Cote

It may have been the first half the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team has been looking for the entire 2008-09 season.

Just three days after one of its worst offensive opening halves of the season, the Hilltoppers punished the visiting Santa Fe Demons, scoring 41 points in the first half Saturday night at Griffith Gymnasium. Los Alamos cruised in the second half, holding Santa Fe to just five points in the final quarter to win 64-39.

Los Alamos’ 41 first half points equaled or bettered its total in seven full games on the season.

It was also the second win of the season by Los Alamos over Santa Fe. Los Alamos picked up a 54-43 win over Santa Fe Dec. 11 as part of the Joe Armijo Classic tournament.

“We knew how to break down their defense,” Hilltopper wing Taylor Ealey said following Saturday’s game. “This is our highest-scoring game of the year. That really helped.”

In the fifth-place game at the Roswell Holiday Classic, which concluded Wednesday, Los Alamos managed just nine points in the first two quarters. Although Los Alamos was able to bounce back in the second half to pull out a 35-28 win over the Las Vegas Robertson Cardinals, it was hardly the offensive output it was looking for, considering its first half struggles throughout much of the season.

Hilltopper head coach Tarah Logan said that while her team’s defense was stellar — Robertson only managed at 15-9 advantage by the break — she said the squad’s 23 percent shooting effort from 2-point range wasn’t going to win a lot of ballgames.

However, Los Alamos was smoking hot in the first half of Saturday’s game. Hilltopper center Bryanna Richins was 8-for-9 to start the game, dropping in 19 of her game-high 21 points.

Ealey, who was about the only offensive bright spot in the Robertson contest, finishing with 18 points — hitting four 3s — added 19 points Saturday, including 14 in the opening quarters.

Along with her 19 points, Ealey had eight rebounds and four assists. Ealey had the pass of the night in the second quarter, firing a laser across the key, right between a pair of Santa Fe defenders, right to Richins who laid it in and got fouled.

Richins, who also led Los Alamos with nine rebounds Saturday, had 11 points in the first quarter alone as Los Alamos jumped out to an 18-12 lead. Only Santa Fe’s Clarissa Garcia kept the score that close, putting in six points in the opening quarter.

Garcia finished with 10 points, behind Felisha Acuña’s 11 points for the Demons (4-8).

Sarah Worland finished with eight points Saturday, while Jenny Tumas had six points in the second half for Los Alamos.

Against Robertson, Richins had seven points and Tyree Richins finished with five. Shelby Courtright grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Hilltoppers in that game.

Saturday’s win put the Hilltoppers at 7-6, the first time they’ve been over .500 this season.