Sundevils rally to top 'Toppers, 52-40

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By Mike Cote

ESPAÑOLA – A hot shooting third quarter by the Española Valley Sundevils put the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team in a hole during Wednesday night’s contest.
Although the Hilltoppers fought back to get the margin down to manageable levels late in the third quarter, Española Valley forced some key turnovers in the fourth quarter to pull away.
Los Alamos was within four points of Española Valley at the break, but Sundevil guard Krista Bustos nailed three 3-pointers in a 2-1/2 minute stretch in the third quarter to get things rolling for her team.
While the Hilltoppers connected on a couple of late jumpers in the third quarter, by Amber Logan and Anna Scott, to clip the Sundevil advantage to 6 points, the Sundevils hit some quick layups and got to the foul line in the fourth quarter. Española Valley won the contest 52-40 at Edward Medina Gymnasium.
The loss drops the Hilltoppers to 1-2 in district play (11-10 overall) with just one more game remaining in the first half of the District 2-4A season. The Hilltoppers will host the struggling Capital Jaguars Saturday night.
Against Española Valley, Los Alamos set itself up with some good looks under the basket much of the night, but struggled to finish.
Hilltopper forward Kiana Zerr consistently beat Española Valley’s post players into the lane but had nearly a half-dozen of her shots spin around the rim and fall off.
Zerr ended up as Los Alamos’ leading scorer with 9 points.
Following the game, Hilltopper head coach Ann Stewart said she hoped those shots would drop for her team when the Hilltoppers and Sundevils face off again Feb. 16 at Griffith Gymnasium.
For now, Los Alamos will have to be content with third place in district. Los Alamos lost Saturday night to district-leading Santa Fe 53-47 on the road, while Española Valley (18-4 overall, 2-1 in 2-4A) will play Bernalillo (1-18) next Tuesday.
When Los Alamos and Española Valley meet again, Los Alamos will have to adjust its defense to slow down Lauren Quintana.
Quintana, the 2011-12 district Player of the Year, slashed to the basket virtually at will Wednesday night. Quintana finished with a game-high 18 points, 10 of those coming in the second half.
Bustos, who connected on four 3s in the game out of five attempts, finished with 12 points and Alexis Lovato, an impressive eighth grader who starts for the Sundevils, had 8 points.
Scott and Logan had 7 points each for the Hilltoppers.