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With the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team looking to pick up some momentum heading into the final stretch before the District 2-4A tournament, it put together a good 2-1/2 quarters against Santa Fe.
Unfortunately for the Hilltoppers, however, Santa Fe’s Demons put together a better 1-1/2 quarters to earn the win Wednesday night.
Los Alamos led by as many as 11 points against Santa Fe, which waxed the Hilltoppers in the teams’ first meeting late last month.
But the Demons held the Hilltoppers to just one point for an 8-plus minute stretch in the third and fourth quarters. Meanwhile, the Demons broke out of their first half shooting slump to go up early in the fourth quarter.
With the second half push, Santa Fe picked up the 45-35 victory, keeping pace with Española Valley for the top spot in the 2-4A race.
Los Alamos was red-hot in the first half, hitting better than 50 percent from the floor. Los Alamos pushed the ball toward the wings, drawing out the Santa Fe defense, then fed center Monika Teter, who was left open, to drop in 12 first half points.
But the Hilltoppers (11-13 overall, 2-4 in 2-4A) got away from that offense in the second half. Midway through the third quarter, Santa Fe switched to full-court pressure which wasn’t particularly effective in forcing turnovers, but it picked up the tempo of the game and seemed to throw a wrench in the Hilltoppers’ strategy.
“The first half we played our game,” Los Alamos head coach Tarah Logan said. “We executed the game plan we defined. In the second half, we allowed Santa Fe to take us out of that.”
Los Alamos had a 3-point edge going into the break, but started the third quarter on an 8-0 run with McKenzie Logan burying a long 3-pointer and Erin Kirk scoring a fast break bucket to put the Hilltoppers up 30-19 with 3:51 left.
But the Demons (15-6, 5-1) snapped back. Led by the defensive efforts of sophomore Jackie Martinez, one of a slew of promising young players on that team, the Demons wouldn’t allow another Hilltopper field goal until 2:56 left in the fourth quarter.
Martinez got in foul trouble late in the first half and picked up her fourth foul in the third quarter, but managed to stay in for the remainder of the game. She finished with nine points but also had 12 rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.
Logan was critical of the officiating in the second half, in which Los Alamos was whistled for 15 fouls while Santa Fe was tagged with six.
For the Hilltoppers, Teter finished with 14 points, leading all scorers, but got off just three shots in the second half. McKenzie Logan had eight points and Hayley Each, Los Alamos’ other big presence in the paint, had seven points.
Santa Fe was paced by Miriah Solano’s 12 points. Sabrina Lozada-Cabbage, a freshman who may well become the premier player in District 2-4A before her prep career is through, had 10 points.