Girls basketball: ’Toppers earn big win in district opener Tuesday

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By Mike Cote

TAOS — A lot of things went right and not too many went wrong for the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team in its District 2AAAA opener Tuesday.


Los Alamos broke open its district debut contest by outscoring the Taos Tigers 16-5 in the third quarter and rolled to a 50-33 victory at Taos. More importantly, the Hilltoppers got their 2AAAA season kick-started with Tuesday’s win.

It was a lopsided victory for Los Alamos and one of its best total team performances of the season.

Shelby Courtright, who has gotten the starting nod for Los Alamos in its last four contests after starting post player Bryanna Richins became ill, posted a career night with 20 points. Courtright punished the Tigers in the low post with the Tigers putting much of their energy into slowing down the Hilltoppers’ penetration and giving attention to Taylor Ealey on the opposite end of the key.

Courtright led the way for the Hilltoppers in the third quarter, scoring half of her points in that frame. She knocked in three field goals and hit 4 of 5 free throw attempts as the Hiltoppers turned a 21-13 advantage at the break into a 37-18 advantage heading into the final period.

Los Alamos guard Sarah Worland, who spent much of her night pushing the ball up the floor, found Courtright on several kick-outs to finish with six assists, not to mention five points.

Worland said that the Hilltoppers wanted to make sure heading into Tuesday night’s game the teams stayed aggressive.

“For the guards, we have the green light to drive when there’s an opening,” she said. “The coaches want us to go for it.”

Even with Courtright getting the start Tuesday, Richins came into the ballgame midway through the second quarter and had a good showing.

Richins, who hadn’t played since a Jan. 6 win at Volcano Vista, had 11 points despite seeing limited action until the fourth quarter.

Richins had a mostly-light workout in pre-game warm-ups, calling into question whether she would see much action Tuesday, but played about 5-1/2 minutes in the first half and a good chunk of the second half.

But even when Richins wasn’t on the floor, the Tigers (5-9 overall, 0-1 in 2AAAA) couldn’t seem to get much going in the way of offense except during a brief stint to open the fourth quarter. They went just 4 of 16 from the floor in the first half and only scored two baskets in the first quarter, one of those coming directly off the opening tip.

Taos’ Sidney Swinehart played an aggressive game, turning in the most notable performance of the night for her team.

She led Taos with 17 points, outscoring the rest of the Tigers 11-9 in the second half.

“We have done a really good job,” Worland said of the team’s defense. “There’s been a lot of hustle, and that’s where the heart really shows. No one slacks off. It creates turnovers and that creates offense.”

For Los Alamos (10-8 overall, 1-0 in 2AAAA), Tyree Richins had six points and Kayci Harmon finished with four.