Stewart hoping to keep LA girls team moving forward

-A A +A
By Mike Cote

Becoming captain midway through a cruise can be tough, although in Ann Stewart’s case, the ship seems to be pointed in the right direction.
However, some rough waters, in the form of a tough District 2-4A schedule, are straight ahead.
Stewart officially took over the reins of the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team Monday. She was named the interim head coach of the team after the abrupt resignation of veteran coach Tarah Logan.
With a very tough District 2-4A season opening in less than a week, Los Alamos isn’t going to have much time to iron out any new wrinkles Stewart might throw at them, but she said she doesn’t want the team to be completely status-quo with the likes of No. 2-ranked Santa Fe or No. 6-ranked Española Valley waiting in the wings.
“I’ll probably try to throw in a few things,” she said. “Throwing in some new things for district is always a good thing. Being a new coach in district, hopefully we can mix things up a bit.”
This season at Los Alamos, the Hilltoppers (9-8) have a good mix of young talent and veteran returners, led by senior Erin Kirk who is enjoying perhaps the best season of her career.
Despite Los Alamos’ recent success — the Hilltoppers had won five of six heading into Tuesday’s game at Taos — things had been difficult from a personnel perspective. Players Hayley Each, who had been leading Los Alamos in both points and rebounds, and Marissa Larribas, didn’t play in the St. Pius X game. There were unconfirmed reports prior to Friday’s game that both had left the team and, as of this morning, neither were on the Hilltoppers’ online roster.
Stewart, who didn’t want to get into the specifics of her personnel situation, said she’s far more concerned about working with the players she’s got now and getting them ready for the upcoming district season.
“We’re going with the kids we’ve got,” Stewart said. “The one’s that have stuck it out. We’re going to try to make the best with what we’ve got. They all love the game and they all want to go to state.”
Logan, who was the District 2-4A Coach of the Year in 2009-10, got the team to the playoffs in each of her four previous seasons.
This is the second team Stewart has led. She was a head coach at Bloomfield High School between 2004-2007.
Despite being just a stone’s throw from the hotbed of girls basketball in New Mexico, Stewart said the talent level of her charges during her time at Bloomfield didn’t approach the talent level at neighboring schools such as Kirtland Central, Farmington and Piedra Vista — Bloomfield, however, wasn’t in the same classification as those schools during her time there.
She has also served as an assistant at schools like Eldorado, Cibola and even as far away as Alamogordo.
Stewart said she’s already asked a few people she knows to try to run down game film of Los Alamos’ district opponents to begin prepping her team. Los Alamos opens district play Tuesday at Bernalillo, then hosts Santa Fe Jan. 25.
“I just want to get us into the state tournament,” she said. “That’s what people have been expecting out of this team. There has been some changes within the team, but competitively we’ve got to get past that. With the girls we have, we’ll hopefully come together and do what we need to do.”