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In retrospect, Los Alamos girls basketball head coach Gerry Washburn might have seen what happened in the second quarter coming.“From the get-go, we set up a play off the tip,” Washburn said. “We didn’t run it. We just threw the ball when we ‘d see someone open.”After several failed attempts to run the floor Saturday against the St. Pius X Sartans, Washburn didn’t want to see a helter-skelter approach Tuesday in his team’s District 2AAAA opener against the Taos Tigers.But in the second quarter, that’s exactly what he saw. And with worse results.However, in Washburn’s speech at the half, he reminded the Hilltoppers exactly what it is that they do best. For the balance of the game they did it. And they won.Led by posts Taylor Ealey and Bryanna Richins in the second half, Los Alamos turned a seven-point deficit at the break into a one-point edge after three quarters and went on to win its 2AAAA debut 47-36 over Taos.Through a somewhat rocky first quarter, Los Alamos looked like it might be able to establish its half-court offense and assert its marked height advantage over Taos, making it a long night for the visiting Tigers.But Los Alamos got away from its game-plan, a plan that’s generally worked well for them this season, and instead decided to work off its transition game.That led to a run of five straight turnovers by the Hilltoppers in the second quarter, all of them coming off lengthy passes down the floor which either weren’t handled or that the Tigers were able to intercept.“We were trying so hard and getting too excited about it,” Hilltopper guard Kayci Harmon said. “We had to slow down.”Los Alamos turned the ball over 10 times in the quarter. During the stretch where Los Alamos couldn’t hang onto the ball, Taos guard Summer Mirabel drained a 3-pointer, then hit an old-fashioned 3-point play in transition off another turnover.The Hilltoppers got off just six shots in the quarter, converting none of them, as the Tigers took a 21-14 lead into the locker room.Following the break, Los Alamos came back onto the floor and did the two things it does as well as anyone: play stingy defense and run its offense through the low post.“We’ve got to be patient on offense,” Ealey said. “We started to rush things, and that’s what made us trail them.”Ealey, who over the course of the nondistrict season established herself as a major offensive threat, wrestled a big offensive rebound away from Taos’ Jade Martinez and scored on a putback. That play, coming at the 4:29 mark of the third quarter, set the Hilltoppers’ wheels in motion.For her effort, though, Ealey was awarded what she called an intentional close-fist punch to the face by Martinez on a trip down the floor two-and-a-half minutes later.Ealey was on the floor for a couple of minutes after the play, but sat out for less than a minute and came back to hit a pair of free throws to close out the quarter and give the Hilltoppers a 28-27 edge heading into the final period.She would finish with a game-high 17 points, 12 of those coming in the second half and 11 coming from the free throw line.Richins, on the other side of the key, got past a rough second quarter, where she went 0-for-4, to score eight points in the second half, finishing with 15.Martinez finished with 14 points to lead Taos (7-11 overall, 0-1 in 2AAAA), which also got 10 points from Mirabel. Mirabel, however, would be held to just two points after the break.In the third quarter, the Tigers scored just six points. The Tigers didn’t fare much better in the final quarter, in which they were outscored 19-9.“(They) kind of had some revenge coming,” Harmon said. “We lost last year at their house. We got a little revenge.”Keyla Tumas and Sarah Worland, who both emerged as solid substitutes coming off the bench during the nondistrict season, both had productive evenings again. Worland hit four big free throws in the fourth quarter to help ice the victory, while Tumas picked up three steals in the contest.Los Alamos (9-9 overall, 1-0 in 2AAAA) went to the charity stripe 18 times in the final eight minutes and a whopping 35 times for the game. The team converted 24 of its chances.“This was a big step,” Washburn said of the win. “This was an eye-opener for all of them. It’s not going to be easy. When you get to district, you can throw the records out. You can throw everything out. It’s about pride. Everyone is playing on a completely different level…now we have a better understanding of that.”
NOTES: Los Alamos will be at Española Valley Friday. That game will be the 2AAAA opener for the Sundevils, who have lost five straight games ... Also on Friday, Taos will host Capital ... Capital and Bernalillo played Tuesday night in Santa Fe. It was the district opener for both schools, but no score had been reported from that game as of press time.
Los Alamos 47, Taos 36Taos (7-11) — Iesha Mitchell 0-2 1-2 1, Juanita Cohn 1-8 0-0 2, Summer Mirabel 4-11 1-3 10, Jade Martinez 8-14 2-3 14, Sydney Swinehart 3-6 0-0 6, Kyrstal Gonzales 0-2 3-4 3, Yaneis Autumn 0-1 0-0 0, Oneta Thomas 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-43 7-12 36.
Los Alamos (9-9) — Sarah Ethridge 0-2 6-8 6, Bryanna Richins 7-17 1-2 15, Tyree Richins 0-4 0-0 0, Taylor Ealey 3-10 11-14 17, Kayci Harmon 0-0 0-0 0, Keyla Tumas 1-3 0-1 2, Sarah Worland 0-0 4-4 4, Shelby Courtright 0-0 2-4 2, Jamie Begay 0-0 1-2 1, Cora Pack 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-36 24-35 47.
Team 1Qtr 2Qtr 3Qtr 4Qtr FinalTaos 9 12 6 9 36Los Alamos 10 4 14 19 47
3-Point Goals — Taos 3-18 (Martinez 2-6, Mirabel 1-5, Cohn 0-6, Gonzales 0-1), Los Alamos 0-3 (Ethridge 0-1, B. Richins 0-1, Tumas 0-1). Fouled out — Mitchell (4th, 2:59), Swinehart (4th, 1:39), Gonzales (4th, :16). Totals fouls— Taos 24, Los Alamos 17. Technicals—None.