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Girls basketball: Toppers pick up two tourney wins

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By Mike Cote

The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls varsity basketball team bounced back nicely from a first-round loss to the El Paso Hanks Knights at the Memorial Medical Center Holiday Hoop-la.In the consolation bracket of the tournament, Los Alamos knocked off El Paso Andress 51-37 Friday, then followed that up with a 56-47 win over Socorro, Texas Saturday to take fifth place in the tournament.The tournament, which included four teams from New Mexico and four others from the El Paso area, was played at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces.Los Alamos dropped its Thursday opener to El Paso Hanks 45-42.“I thought we got better in every game,” Hilltopper head coach Gerry Washburn said. “In the Andress game, they had big, tall kids, a solid team, and we kept them from doing anything they wanted to do.”Taylor Ealey had big outings on Friday and Saturday, dropping in 24 points against Andress and 17 more against Socorro. Bryanna Richins got into double-figures in both games as well, with 10 points Friday and 13 points Saturday.Los Alamos wanted to pound the ball inside in this tournament and got penetration into the basket in all three games. Against Andress and Socorro, it was able to finish better than it had against Hanks.Washburn said his squad played excellent team defense throughout the tournament as well, crediting his bench as much as his starters, particularly Keyla Tumas and Sarah Worland. Washburn said his rotation was going about 10 deep throughout the tournament and the bench players had productive defensive minutes.The biggest kudos of the tournament went to two-guard Sarah Ethridge, whom Washburn said is turning into the leader the team needs.“Ethie did a great job leading this team,” he said. “She’s done a great job for the last five games…She’s handled the ball well, she’s played phenomenal defense, everything you want a senior to do.”Ethridge also got into double-figures Saturday, picking up 10 points.The wins put the ’Toppers (5-4) back on the right side of the .500 mark. The ’Toppers dropped below that mark with their loss Thursday.Los Alamos will be at Santa Fe Friday.