Calderon leads LAHS to victory

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By Phil Scherer

Through two games, it appears the best word to describe the Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team is resilient.

Tuesday evening, in the team’s home opener, nothing came easy for the Hilltoppers. Yet for the second game in a row, the team found a way to get it done, defeating St. Michael’s High School 53-42.

“It was an ugly win, but it was a win,” LAHS head coach Josh Archuleta said. “But we will take an ugly win over a loss any day.”

Early on, it appeared that the Hilltoppers would have no issue defeating the Lady Horsemen as LAHS jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on baskets by Becca Green and Susana Gallegos.

But after that quick burst, the Horsemen climbed right back into the game, outscoring the Hilltoppers 10-2 the rest of the quarter and heading into the break with a 10-9 lead.

“We came out hot initially, but after that we just let St. Michael’s hang around,” Archuleta said.

The Hilltoppers responded well in the second quarter, as the rebounding and shooting improved. All game long, the inside presence of the Hilltoppers, led by Green and Natalie Gallegos, made the game difficult for St. Michael’s as every rebound was contested on both ends of the floor.

Led by three-point baskets from Alex Calderon and Jenna Harris, LAHS regained its early seven-point lead and entered halftime up 27-20.

One of the key moments of the half came as the second quarter was winding to a close. Jenee Montoya was fouled on a three-point attempt and went to the free throw line with the Hilltoppers clinging to a slim lead.

She knocked down all three shots, allowing the team to have a more comfortable advantage. Prior to her free throws, the team had made just two of its 10 free throw attempts.

Throughout the second half, St. Michael’s continued to attempt to close the gap and get back in the contest. But every time the lead would tighten to four points or fewer, LAHS seemed to find a way to make a big shot and never lost control.

A big reason for that was the play of Calderon, who scored 15 points in the game, including a pair of important three-pointers. Eight of her points came in the fourth quarter as the team worked to finish the game.

Archuleta said he is impressed with the improvements Calderon has made since last season, and believes she will continue getting better as the season moves along.

“She has become a different player from last season,” Archuleta said. “She has it in her mind that she knows what she wants now.”

Down the stretch, Calderon knocked down three important free throws to put the game away, as LAHS escaped with a 53-42 victory. With the win, LAHS is 2-0 this season. In the team’s first game last weekend, the Hilltoppers defeated Farmington High School 44-40 on the road.

The team now shifts its focus to its Saturday evening matchup with Pojoaque High School, which is sure to be the biggest test of the young season for the Hilltoppers. In Pojoaque’s first game of the season against Capital High School, the Lady Elks used a full-court press all game and forced the Jaguars into 40 turnovers en route to a 52-30 victory.

Both LAHS and Pojoaque will enter Saturday’s game with 2-0 records. The game is set to tip off at 5 p.m. in Pojoaque.