Hilltoppers come up short in overtime against Chargers

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By Phil Scherer

Despite strong offensive efforts from Becca Green and Susana Gallegos, the Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team blew an 8-point fourth quarter lead, falling to Albuquerque Academy 42-38 in overtime.

The game was a hard-fought battle throughout, with the teams fighting for every loose ball and forcing more than a dozen held-ball calls. Nearly every trip down the floor resulted in at least a few players tangled up on the ground.

Gallegos set the tone in the game early, as she drove hard to the basket every time she got the ball in her hand, earning three trips to the free-throw line in the first quarter. She went 3-6 from the line, and added a layup, scoring 5 of the team’s 9 points in the quarter.

Thanks to her strong play, and Academy’s inability to knock down shots throughout the first eight minutes, LAHS led 9-7 after the first quarter.

Green took over for the Hilltoppers in the second quarter, putting up 7 points, as she took advantage of her size advantage on the inside, which gave her an easy lane to the basket.

The Chargers hung around throughout the half, and gained a big boost from a late 3-pointer from Mercy Moya that kept Academy within striking distance as LAHS led 20-14 at halftime.

Momentum began to flip in the third quarter, as LAHS had trouble getting a rhythm established on offense, and scored just 4 points in the quarter. Academy, meanwhile, had its best offensive quarter of the night, connecting on a pair of 3-pointers from Moya and Andre Park, and quickly erasing its deficit.

LAHS’ only basket in the quarter came from Anna Lemke, as the Hilltoppers suddenly trailed 25-24 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Hilltoppers seemed to regain control at the beginning of the fourth quarter, as Green knocked down a rare 3-pointer and Natalie Gallegos connected on another layup. At one point, the Hilltoppers extended its lead to 8 points, but could not keep control.

The Chargers began chipping away, and trimmed the deficit to 3 points with under a minute to play.

Hoping for a game tying 3-pointer, the ball came to Khushi Bhakta, who had scored only 1 point in the game up to that point. She received the ball in the crowd, stepped back, and fired. Her shot rolled around and fell through the basket, tying the game at 33-33 and sending the contest into overtime.

In overtime, Academy’s Kelsey Crist took over. On three straight possessions, she scored on layups, putting the Chargers in front for good. Much like the majority of the game, LAHS struggled to score in overtime, connecting on just one basket in the final four minutes.

Time ran out, and Academy walked away with a hard-fought 42-38 victory.

Green led all scorers with 12 points, while Susana Gallegos had 7 points and Natalie Gallegos added 6 points.

The loss drops LAHS to 0-6 in District 2-5A with two games remaining. The team will be back in action on Tuesday to take on Española Valley. The game will tip off at 7 p.m.