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Throughout the preseason, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team has emphasized team play.
The Hilltoppers ran it to near-perfection at home Thursday night.
Los Alamos played swarming pressure defense throughout its contest against the Albuquerque Academy Chargers Thursday, forcing 17 first half turnovers, while doing all the little things to get open looks at the basket on the offensive end.
The Hilltoppers jumped out to a big lead early in the contest and never looked back, taking a 54-22 decision over the visiting Chargers at Griffith Gymnasium.
Struggling to get through Los Alamos’ pressure, Academy went nearly 13 minutes in the second and third quarters without a field goal. Academy coughed up the ball 11 times in the second quarter and Los Alamos built up a 35-9 lead early in the third.
Los Alamos was able to take advantage of its bigger bodies in the paint, with center Monika Teter getting off to a hot start in the first half – she played only sparingly in the second half – dropping in eight points to lead all scorers at the break.
But the Hilltoppers (2-1) had, virtually to a player, a great night setting screens on the offensive end, as well as moving without the ball. Academy, which tried to counter with several different defensive looks before settling on a man-to-man approach for most the contest, was constantly scrambling to regain position, particularly near the basket, while Los Alamos was usually getting wide open looks inside.
Hayley Each, who led all scorers with 13 points coming off the bench, was able to drive through the lane with little to stop her, even though she set up close to the top of the key for much of the second half. Each hit 6 of 11 shots from the floor.
Marissa Higdon went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field for 10 points, while Christine Larribas and Marissa Laribbas both added six points.
Academy finished with just one offensive rebound and zero second-chance points as Los Alamos dominated the glass. Academy was without one of its top athletes, Natalie DuBoise.
Ali Stratton finished with eight points. No other Charger had more than four.
The Chargers (1-2) thumped the Capital Jaguars 50-18 Tuesday night in Albuquerque, but couldn’t crack the Hilltoppers’ pressure, particularly upfront. Amber Logan had four steals for the Hilltoppers in the second quarter, while Anna Scott and Erin Kirk each were credited with three steals.