Hilltoppers fail to execute in loss to Española Valley

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By Phil Scherer

Finding areas that need improvement on the Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team is easy. Figuring out the solutions in those areas is far more difficult.

Issues that have popped up all season, free throw shooting, ball handling, clock management, were on full display Saturday night as the Hilltoppers fell to Española Valley High School 37-27.

It was a sloppy contest from the very beginning, as the Hilltoppers were unable to hold onto the ball, leading to easy baskets for the Sundevils. Española Valley’s Kaylee Chavez took advantage of the offensive opportunities throughout the first quarter, as she scored 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Meanwhile, the Hilltoppers were unable to get anything going in the first quarter, scoring only 3 points on one made basket.

After the first quarter, the Hilltoppers trailed 17-3.

The struggles continued on the offensive end for LAHS into the second quarter, but the defense was much better. The Sundevils were only able to score 6 points in the second quarter, but LAHS added just 4 points, as the Hilltoppers trailed 23-7 heading into halftime.

The biggest issue in the quarter for LAHS was free-throw shooting. The Hilltoppers went to the free-throw line 10 times, but connected on only two attempts. Natalie Gallegos missed on all four of hers, while Becca Green and Jenna Harris missed two apiece.

In the first half, the team was 3-14 from the free throw line.

Another issue for the team in the first half was turnovers. The Hilltoppers turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter, and nine times in the second quarter, making it impossible for the team to gain any sort of offensive momentum.

Though the Sundevils were only able to score 3 points in the third quarter, LAHS was unable to capitalize, scoring only 8 points of its own and remaining down by double digits, at 26-15.

The final quarter saw increased offense by both teams, although clock management proved to be a major issue for the Hilltoppers down the stretch.

After trimming the lead to single digits, LAHS had an opportunity to get back into the game by fouling the Sundevils to send them to the free throw line and get the ball back.

Instead, Española Valley was able to run more than a minute off the clock by holding onto the ball before LAHS finally fouled with 45 seconds left in the game, too little time to mount a comeback.

As the clock ran out, LAHS fell 37-27, extending the team’s losing streak to six games, and leaving the team 0-3 in district games.

The Hilltoppers will return to the court Friday night on the road against Del Norte High School at 7 p.m.