Lady Hilltoppers hold off Lady Sundevils
Thursday night was all about the kids.
The Los Alamos girls basketball team found inspiration from a player’s suggestion, then relied on its younger players to finish off the District 2-4A semifinal against Española Valley. With three starters on the bench after fouling out in overtime, the Lady Hilltoppers went to their bench as they held on for a 72-60 win in Griffith Gymnasium.
Los Alamos, the second seed in the tournament, takes on top seed Pojoaque Valley at 7 p.m. Saturday in Ben Luján Gymnasium.
After falling behind 15-9 after the first quarter, the Lady Hilltoppers (13-14) chipped away at the margin. It was down to 33-29 at the half and 43-41 heading into the fourth quarter.
Los Alamos outscored Española 15-13 in the fourth, thanks in part to a 5-for-5 performance from Michaela Gonzales at the free-throw line.
The junior forward continued her hot shooting at the line by going 5-for-5 in the overtime and hit 10 of 11 free throws as she had a team-high 22 points.
The Lady Hilltoppers finished the game with post Becca Green, forward Natalie Gallegos and guard Alex Calderon on the sidelines. They combined for 41 points, with Green scoring 16 points while grabbing 17 rebounds. Gallegos had 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Lanse Carter, the Lady Hilltoppers head coach, said another junior — Hannah Sanchez — came up with a defensive suggestion at the half which helped the team shut down Lady Sundevils wing Kaylinn Martinez. She had 18 points in the first half on six 3-pointers, but she scored just two points the rest of the way.
“This was a great team win for us,” Carter said. “Hannah comes up with a better way to do our defensive scheme. And with all those kids who fouled out, we could have folded out tents. But the youth came in and supported us.”
Española fell to 15-11.