Girls basketball: Toppers look to stay afloat in 2-4A

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By The Staff

Even though Valentine’s Day is over, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team should send a nice card to the Taos Tigers.

Taos, which is an also-ran in the regular season District 2AAAA race, upset district contender Capital Saturday afternoon 37-32 in Santa Fe. That, combined with Los Alamos’ 58-24 win at Bernalillo Saturday night, put the Hilltoppers (13-11 overall, 4-2 in 2AAAA) a half-game up on the Jaguars for second place in the district standings.

The upset win by the Tigers (6-14 overall, 1-5 in 2AAAA) over the Jaguars (5-17 overall, 4-3 in 2AAAA) means that Los Alamos can clinch the district’s runner-up spot with a win in either of its final two contests.

The Hilltoppers still have an outside shot at a district regular season title, but they will need to win tonight’s game on the road against Española Valley’s Sundevils by 10 points or more, win Friday night against Capital and then hope the lowly Spartans (2-19 overall, 0-5 in 2AAAA) trip up the district-leading Sundevils (16-6 overall, 6-0 in 2AAAA) at Bernalillo Friday.

While Los Alamos might be able to hold up its end of the bargain in the two games this week, Bernalillo beating Española Valley isn’t a terribly likely scenario. The Sundevils waxed Bernalillo 70-42 in the teams’ first meeting Feb. 3 in the valley.

Regardless of tonight’s outcome – tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Edward Medina Gymnasium – Los Alamos must beat Capital Friday to clinch at least the runner-up spot. Capital beat Los Alamos 62-55 in Santa Fe and would clinch the tiebreaker over the Hilltoppers with a win Friday.

Los Alamos was without point guard Tyree Richins in its first meeting against Española Valley. Without its starting point guard, the Sundevils put heavy pressure and forced 25 turnovers, most of which were converted on the other end of the court.

Although Tyree Richins will be back tonight, forward Bryanna Richins sat out most of Saturday’s game against Bernalillo. Hilltopper head coach Tarah Logan thought Bryanna Richins, the team’s most consistent scorer, would be back and healthy tonight.

Bryanna Richins had 12 points for the Hilltoppers in the first meeting with the Sundevils Jan. 31. Taylor Ealey had 12 points as well, but four Sundevils finished in double-figures that night, with Nisa Duran pacing her squad (18 points, 5 steals).

Should the Sundevils earn a victory tonight or Friday night they would clinch the regular season district title, host the 2AAAA tournament championship game next week and clinch a spot in the Class AAAA postseason tournament.

The Sundevils are one of the best comeback stories in the state. In 2006-07, they didn’t win a single game, but in just two seasons under Ron Drake, a veteran head coach, they control their own destiny for a regular season district championship and state tournament berth.