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The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team will head into tonight’s District 2-4A second round off a big win over the weekend.
Los Alamos needed overtime, but it tripped up the Artesia Bulldogs Saturday afternoon, 57-56 at a neutral site game in Vaughn.
Saturday’s game was the regular season finale for both teams — a game that came about because Los Alamos’ game originally scheduled wit Albuquerque Academy earlier this season was canceled and Artesia was the only taker to fill that hole in the Hilltoppers’ schedule.
But with the Hilltoppers’ win, it became a happy turn of events. The Hilltoppers and Bulldogs went into the game with similar records and a similar ranking according to the MaxPreps.com website, which is a key factor in the judging the playoff-worthiness of teams around the state.
With that victory, Los Alamos (12-14) took a big step toward securing an at-large bid into the state playoffs.
However, Los Alamos has a chance to make an at-large nod unnecessary.
The Hilltoppers will face the Bernalillo Spartans in the first round of the District 2-4A tournament tonight. Game time is 7 p.m. at Griffith Gymnasium.
Los Alamos is the No. 3 seed in the tournament. The winner tonight will move on to face the second-seeded Española Valley Sundevils Thursday in Española.
Bernalillo, for its part, advanced to tonight’s second round by surviving a scare from the Capital Jaguars Monday night.
The Jaguars, who were winless on the season, mounted a big comeback to start the fourth quarter, spearheaded by two big 3-pointers from senior Selena Gonzales. Gonzales’ second 3-pointer of the quarter gave the Jaguars a 46-45 edge with about 5:30 left in the game.
But Bernalillo (9-18) bounced back to reclaim the lead and win the elimination contest 63-56, setting up tonight’s match-up at Griffith Gymnasium.
Alleah Candelaria had 21 points to lead the Spartans to Monday’s win. Deanna Lopez chipped in 14 points and Rachel Darnell added 11 points.
Tonight’s game will be the third meeting between Bernalillo and Los Alamos this season. They split the first two meetings, with Los Alamos taking a big 68-43 victory on the Hill and Bernalillo stunning Los Alamos Feb. 7 at home, 50-48.
The Hilltoppers have won two straight contests, including the victory over the Bulldogs. Guard McKenzie Logan had a monster game for the Hilltoppers, which included a 24-point scoring performance and making some big plays on defense.
Demons secure top spot in tourney
The Bernalillo-Capital contest wasn’t the only game with repercussions in District 2-4A Monday night.
The Santa Fe Demons and the Española Valley Sundevils faced off in Griffith Gymnasium for a one-game playoff to determine the 2-4A regular season champion. Both the Demons and the Sundevils finished with identical 7-1 records during the 2-4A regular season, with their losses coming against one another, with each losing on its home floor.
In the playoff, Santa Fe came up big in the fourth quarter, dropping in 23 points, to win 63-44.
Santa Fe veteran Jackie Martinez poured in 19 points in the victory, while teammate Kayla Herrera added 15.
The margin of victory for the Demons (25-2) came as something of a surprise, as Española Valley (20-6) went in playing about as well as any team in Class 4A.
The win for Santa Fe not only clinched the top spot in the 2-4A tournament, but also clinched the Demons an automatic bid to the state playoffs.