Girls basketball: Toppers open 2AAAA season tonight vs. Tigers

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By Mike Cote

Opening day of the District 2AAAA girls basketball season is here, snow or no snow.

Tonight, weather permitting, the Los Alamos Hilltoppers will open their district season at home against the Taos Tigers. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. — no announcement had been made as to a possible weather postponement as of press time.

Los Alamos (10-6) could hardly be heading into the 2AAAA season with more confidence, having won six straight and eight of its last 10.

This season’s district crown, however, will have to be wrenched from the fists of the Española Valley Sundevils, who aren’t going to give it up easily.

In 2008-09, Española Valley picked up both the 2AAAA regular season title and tournament championships. Española Valley tripped up Los Alamos 45-35 in the district tournament championship game last season, the first time in three years Los Alamos had not claimed the title.

While Los Alamos did get into the state tournament as an at-large team, it was thumped in the first round of the state playoffs by Kirtland Central.

Hilltopper head coach Tarah Logan, now in her second season with the team, said she hadn’t had a chance to scout the Sundevils (15-3), who are ranked fourth in Class AAAA according to the most recent coaches’ poll, but said the Sundevils aren’t the team’s primary concern.

“As long as we play our game and we’re doing what we need to do, we’ll be fine,” she said. “Last year we had trouble with our in-and-out game. This year, we’re playing both.”

The Hilltoppers and Sundevils will meet Jan. 30 in Española and Feb. 16 at Griffith Gym.

While the Hilltoppers’ primary goal for the moment is to get the 2AAAA championship back, their long-term goal of getting back to the state playoffs may already be settled. They are currently 8-2 against other Class AAAA teams, with their only two losses being to Kirtland Central and Roswell, two of the top three teams in the state, which will probably get them an at-large bid so long as they can sweep Bernalillo and Taos, which they are expected to do without much trouble.

Taos (6-9) has had a decent nondistrict showing, going 6-5 in games through Jan. 8 — the last time the team reported a score — after losing its first four straight contests. But Taos has put up inconsistent offensive numbers throughout the season, including a season-low 18 points against Thoreau Jan. 7.

Los Alamos, meanwhile, won a big game Friday night at home, coming from behind after trailing most of the way to the Del Norte Knights.

Led by Taylor Ealey’s 24 points and Sarah Worland’s 13, six of which were free throws she connected on in the overtime period, Los Alamos topped Del Norte 59-50.