Prep girls basketball: Toppers drop regular season finale at Capital

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By Jose Corral

The Los Alamos girls basketball team couldn't avoid a last-place finish in District 2-5A.

In the regular season finale, the Hilltoppers fell to Capital 42-32 Saturday in Santa Fe and fell to last place in the District 2-5A standings. Capital's win puts the Jaguars in fourth place and gives them a home game in the district tournament, where they'll face Los Alamos at 4 p.m. Monday in the first round.

"You have to back to the drawing table," Los Alamos coach Josh Archuleta said. "Some of the adjustments we made were good adjustments."

Los Alamos just didn't have enough offense to close the gap late in the fourth quarter. While the Hilltoppers struggled on the offensive end, the Jaguars made the best of their opportunities to put the game away.

Rachel Friend hit a pair of free throws to extend Capital's lead to 36-27 with 5:10 left in the game. Savannah Lucero gave Los Alamos a glimpse of hope by hitting a triple to cut the Jaguars lead to 38-31 with 3:42 remaining. But that as close as the Hilltoppers got and Friend sealed the win with two free throws in the final minute.

"We needed to execute our ball movement a little bit better," Archuelta said. "We failed to move the ball quickly. We were lazy in our cuts, which ultimately led to turnovers. That was a big reason we didn't get the points that we needed."

After Wednesday's loss against Espanola Valley, Archuleta said the underclassmen substitution group would start against Capital. The five underclassmen did end up starting but Archuleta subbed in the senior group early in the first quarter.

Archuleta didn't always sub in five at a time like he did against the Sundevils. Instead, he used both groups as the same time for various parts of the game.

"I think that gave us better balance," Archuleta said. "We went with our original seniors and they came out and rattled them and brought us back in the game."

Capital got started quick and jumped out to a 12-6 lead, after a Rachel Friend put-back with 1:26 left in the first quarter.

Los Alamos turned the ball on its first five possession of the first quarter but Capital wasn’t able to capitalize. Instead, the Hilltoppers began to build some momentum and a Sienna Ahlers layup cut the Capital lead to 16-13. And on the Jaguars next possession, Elena Abeyta forced a turnover and converted a foul on the other end while being fouled. Abeyta's three-point play tied 16-16 before Deeanza Booker hit a jumper at the end of the first half to give Capital an 18-16 lead at halftime.

Los Alamos had a momentary lead after Rebecca Green made it 23-20 with 4:58 left in the third quarter. But the Hilltoppers couldn't hang on to the newfound momentum and the Jaguars ended the third on an 11-3 run.

"We missed a lot of key layups. The offense just shut down," Arhculeta said. "

Kyannah Cole hit clutch free throws including two in the fourth quarter, and finished with a game-high 10 points.

Green paced Los Alamos with nine points.

It'll one-and-done from now on for Los Alamos, and a loss in next week's District 2-5A season will end the Hilltoppers season.    

"We have to be able to keep it close and take the lead," Archuleta said. "And play our style of basketball."