Girls basketball: Toppers hold on late to top Jaguars

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By Mike Cote

With one minute remaining, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team looked well on its way to picking up its third win of the District 2AAAA season.
With 21.6 seconds remaining, everything was up in the air.
The Hilltoppers survived a scare Saturday night to pick up the victory. Christine Larribas picked off a pass on the Capital Jaguars’ side of the court to break up a potential game-tying drive and the Hilltoppers hit some big late free throws to win 58-55.
“We made it close. We made it very close,” Los Alamos guard Tina Radosevich said afterward. “It didn’t have to be that close.”
It got that close because Capital’s fifth-year starting point guard, Dominique Vigil-Lovato, had quite probably the best 60 seconds of her life.
With Los Alamos up 56-46 with 1:01 remaining, Vigil-Lovato caught fire. In those waning moments, Vigil-Lovato hit two 3-pointers, both of them off-balance, and dropped in 3 out of 4 chances at the free throw line to cut the lead all the way down to one.
The late comeback by the Jaguars was perhaps most shocking because, late in the fourth, as a team, they looked done.
“It looked like they were starting to give up,” said Hilltopper Madison Ahlers, whose 12 points coming off the bench was tops on her team. “(Vigil-Lovato) was their shooter. Tina did a good job of face-guarding her. But we came back, Christine stole it. It was fun to play in.”
Ahlers was a big part of the reason the Hilltopppers enjoyed a comfortable lead late. In the first quarter she scored six points, four of them coming directly off steals, as she converted on 4 of 5 attempts in the first half.
Los Alamos actually trailed for much of the first half. Vigil-Lovato had 12 of her game-high 26 points in the first quarter and the Hilltoppers didn’t aid their cause much with 17 first half turnovers.
In the third quarter, however, it was Capital’s turn to cough up the ball. Capital lost the ball 11 times in the quarter, while Los Alamos turned those into eight points on the other end of the floor.
The Hilltoppers (9-11 overall, 3-1 in 2AAAA), who trailed by as many as six points in the first half, led 42-38 at the end of three.
In the fourth quarter, Los Alamos started to pull away, leading by 12 midway through and by 56-46 before Vigil-Lovato’s last minute near-heroics.
A loss Saturday night would’ve been the second big blow of the week to the Hilltoppers, who were trounced 64-33 at Española Valley in a game to determine the early season 2AAAA leader.
For Capital (5-13 overall, 1-2 in 2AAAA), junior Sarah Romero, who has started for the team since her freshman year, fouled out in the fourth quarter, but still had 16 points.
McKenzie Logan, getting the starting nod for Los Alamos Saturday, had her fourth straight district game finishing in double-figures, picking up 10 points. Hayley Each finished with seven points and eight rebounds while Monika Teter added eight points and five boards.