LAHS downed by Santa Fe High

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Slow start dooms girls basketball in defensive battle

By Phil Scherer

Heading into this season, the main concern surrounding the Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team was its inexperience. With just three seniors on the roster, it was inevitable that girls without much varsity experience would be thrust into important roles.

Tuesday night against Santa Fe High School, the growing pains of the young Hilltoppers were on full display, as LAHS fell 46-35 partially due to an offense still searching for its identity.

Heading into the game, it appeared the Hilltoppers had a bit of momentum. In its previous game, LAHS defeated Valencia High School on the road 54-52, after being down by six points at halftime.

It also appeared that the Hilltoppers were catching Santa Fe High at the right time, as new head coach Cindy Roybal struggled through her first few games leading the Demonettes, with a 1-3 record.

Early on, however, it was clear that Santa Fe High came into the matchup with the Hilltoppers ready to go, and firing on all cylinders.

In this game, LAHS head coach Josh Archuleta inserted senior Katey Green into the starting lineup for junior Alix Hailey.

Just 90 seconds into the game, Green had to be removed after picking up two quick personal fouls. This seemed to disrupt the offensive flow and put the Hilltoppers in an early hole.

Santa Fe High knocked down five shots in the first quarter, including a pair of three-point baskets. Meanwhile, LAHS connected on just two shots, from Becca Green and Jenee Montoya.

It was clear that the offensive strategy for the Hilltoppers was to get the ball inside to Becca Green and take advantage of the height advantage enjoyed by LAHS. However, the defense of the Demonettes guarded Green, and forward Natalie Gallegos, well, making shots hard to come by.

After one quarter, Santa Fe High led 14-6.

The gap would only widen in the second quarter, as the three-point shots continued to fall for the Demonettes. Taylor Salazar connected on two, and Adonica Baca-Martinez hit one as well. In the quarter, Santa Fe High scored 17 points, compared to eight for the Hilltoppers.

Heading into halftime, the Demonettes led 31-14.

In the third quarter, the LAHS defense turned things up a notch, as the team went into a zone defense designed to prevent the easy deep shots that had fallen for Santa Fe High throughout the first half. In addition, the team had senior guard Ashley Atencio follow Salazar, the Demonettes’ leading scorer, wherever she went.

The strategy worked, as Santa Fe managed just four points in the third quarter. For the Hilltoppers, the only problem was that things didn’t come as easily on the offensive end of the floor, as LAHS scored just nine points in the quarter to trim the deficit to 35-23.

In the fourth quarter, LAHS was able to trim the deficit to just eight points, but could get no closer. After having the lead cut, Santa Fe High went on a run, and extended the lead to double-digits. As time ran out, the Demonettes cruised to a 46-35 win.

For Santa Fe High, Salazar was the leading scorer with 18 points. Guard Kaya Suina scored 16.

Alex Calderon led the Hilltoppers with 11 points, and Becca Green scored 8 points. Montoya scored 6 points, and Gallegos added 4 points.

The loss drops LAHS record to 3-4 heading into this weekend’s Joe Armijo Tournament in Albuquerque.

The team returns to Griffith Gymnasium Tuesday evening to take on Hope Christian.

The game will begin at 7 p.m.