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In its biggest test of the season so far, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team came out with less than glowing marks.
The Hilltoppers were held to just 12 points in the second and third quarters, allowing the Hope Christian Huskies to take a big lead heading toward the finish. The Hilltoppers pushed back in the fourth quarter, cutting a 17-point deficit down to nine on two occasions, but the Huskies prevailed 50-37 at Griffith Gymnasium.
Hope Christian, a formidable Class 3A program, forced 16 Los Alamos turnovers in the first half, using mostly basic defenses mixed in with some full court pressure, and scored 16 points off fast break chances, that extending into the start of the third quarter.
The loss for the Hilltoppers snapped a three-game winning streak, two of those wins coming against Class 4A opponents.
Hope (4-1), which already has posted a win over a good Class 5A team, La Cueva, was one of the taller teams Los Alamos has faced this season. Interestingly, its big girls didn’t prove to be much of a factor, especially the 6-foot-1 Leala Longmire, who only played about seven minutes in the contest, struggling with foul trouble throughout.
It was Hope’s guards that did much of the damage, slicing through the lane with the ball and sneaking around the back side to get rebounds, particularly on the offensive end.
“We really struggled with our rebounding in the first half,” said Hilltopper head coach Tarah Logan, who was absent from Los Alamos’ win Saturday over Moriarty with illness. “In the second half, we did better boxing and getting rebounds. That’s a symptom of playing smaller teams, we don’t box out as well.”
Los Alamos (3-2) was able to correct some of those problems in the second half, but fell further behind Hope after three straight fast break buckets by Marissa Perry, who scored 8 of her 10 points in the third quarter.
After limiting Los Alamos to just four points in the second quarter, Hope went on an 11-4 run which extended for nearly six minutes to open the third quarter before Marissa Larribas’ bucket, making a nice spin move against Hope’s Shelby Perry.
That bucket seemed to spark the Hilltoppers, who worked the ball down late in the quarter and into the fourth quarter to center Hayley Each.
Each dropped in 7 of her game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter, going to the foul line 6 times and converting 5 of those.
Los Alamos struggled with its shooting for most of the night, however. It converted just 4 times in the first half and finished the game 11-for-36 from the field (30.6 percent) and misfired on numerous short-range chances.
Hope didn’t shoot much better, connecting on 16 of 49 from the field (32.7 percent).
The Huskies were paced by Robyn Walker’s 12 points, while Kasey Howington had 11. The Huskies’ bench came up with 14 points to the Hilltoppers’ 7.
Amber Logan had 8 points for the Hilltoppers. No other Hilltopper had more than 5.