Girls’ basketball splits key weekend set

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By Phil Scherer

In the final games before the holiday break, the Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team split a pair of home matchups against top southern programs, Roswell and Artesia.

Friday night against Roswell, the Hilltoppers dominated the early part of the game, but fell apart late, losing in overtime 65-64. Saturday afternoon, the Hilltoppers bounced back with a solid effort against Artesia, winning 63-58.

The game against Roswell started great for the Hilltoppers, as the offense exploded for 23 points in the first quarter to go up 23-10.

LAHS’ forwards were able to get to the basket on nearly every possession because of the team’s height advantage. Becca Green struggled to convert on her opportunities, but Natalie Gallegos and Mattie Ruminer dominated.

Gallegos had 7 points in the quarter, and Ruminer added 5 points. Jenee Montoya also knocked down a 3-point basket.

LAHS remained steady through the second and third quarters, and went into the fourth quarter with a 48-39 lead. That’s when Roswell’s offense woke up and turned the entire game around.

The Coyotes outscored the Hilltoppers 16-7 in the fourth quarter, and had the lead late before LAHS was able to even the score, sending the game into overtime. Roswell was aided by the fact Green and Hannah Sanchez fouled out in the second half.

In overtime, Roswell appeared to have control, taking the early lead. But LAHS’ Alex Calderon had other ideas, hitting one three-pointer to tie the score 60-60, and another to take a 63-62 lead with 12 seconds left in the game.

But the Hilltopper defense had trouble defending the inbounds pass, and Roswell’s Jalen Baca had a free lane to the basket.

She hit a layup with 4.8 seconds left on the clock to put her team on top 65-64.

Though LAHS’ Savannah Lucero had a shot to win the game at the buzzer, her jumper hit the rim and bounced out, and the Hilltoppers lost 65-64.

Calderon led the Hilltoppers with 16 points, while Gallegos added 14 and Montoya had 11 points.

Saturday against Artesia, Green bounced back for the Hilltoppers, delivering one of the top offensive games in her high school career.

She scored 6 points in the first quarter, and helped the Hilltoppers jump out to a 10-8 lead after the first quarter.

With a balanced offensive effort, LAHS went into halftime with a 22-18 lead.

LAHS’ forwards dominated near the basket throughout the game Saturday, as Gallegos and Ruminer also had strong offensive games, finishing with double-digit points.

Green’s dominance continued in the third quarter, as she put in 8 more points and had no issue getting to the basket.

Holding onto a two-point lead heading into the final quarter, the Hilltoppers kept applying pressure offensively and defensively, limiting the opportunities for the Bulldogs.

The Hilltoppers outscored Artesia 23-20 in the final quarter, and won the game 63-58.

Green finished the game with 27 points, knocking down 11 shots and going 5-6 from the free throw line. Gallegos and

Ruminer both had 11 points, and Calderon added 8 points.

With the weekend split, LAHS goes to 3-6 this season. The team will get back to action Dec. 27 in the Clovis holiday tournament.

In the first round, the Hilltoppers will take on host school Clovis.