By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
The Los Alamos Hilltoppers wouldn’t go quietly into the night, despite everything host Portales was doing against them.
Though the team fell behind early, Los Alamos held off every chance by Portales to seal a blowout and made it a seven-point game as Bryanna Richins hit a putback in the final seconds of the third quarter.
Then Portales freshman Tara Johnson let a shot fly on her way back to the bench and that was the end of the Hilltopper evening.
A near half-court shot by Johnson put Portales back up by double figures and sparked a 14-4 run for the finishing touches of a 63-44 win in Saturday’s Portales Shootout game.
Megan Kabrick scored all of her game-high 21 points in the second half to lead four in double figures for Portales (10-5) and outscored Los Alamos by herself in the fourth, 18-14.
But the most impressive shot in Kabrick’s mind was Johnson’s heave, which turned out to be the first of six consecutive made field goals for the Lady Rams over the next four minutes.
“That was awesome when she hit that,” Kabrick said. “That girl, she’s really good. That shot was really good.”
Even Portales coach Brenda Gomez admitted the team got an emotional lift from the shot, the second buzzer-beating three in as many nights for Johnson.
“Everyone thought that was pretty cool,” Gomez said, before quipping, “now she’s going to look for them.”
For all the shot meant, the only one who didn’t see it was Johnson herself.
“I didn’t even think about it,” said Johnson, who hit a trey to end the first quarter of Friday’s win against Kirtland Central. “I got the ball and figured, ‘There are only two seconds left.’ I shot it and started walking back to the bench.”
The make put Portales up 40-30 at the quarter break and by the time the team missed a shot again, Kabrick grabbed the offensive rebound and hit one of two free throws after being fouled to give the Lady Rams a 52-37 lead.
While Portales jumped out to a 7-2 lead and the outcome never seemed to be in doubt, the Hilltoppers (8-6) spent the first three quarters holding off the Lady Ram offense.
“We’d get up by 10 or 12, and before we knew it, it would be back to six,” Gomez said. “We’d do something silly at the worst time.”
Briana Hernandez hit three 3-pointers and scored 13 points for the Lady Rams. Morgan Hill had 12 points despite sitting out most of the fourth quarter and Ashleah Richards scored 10 for Portales, which hosts Carlsbad Tuesday.
Talerra Rich scored 19 points to lead the Hilltoppers.
Los Alamos coach Gary Washburn wasn’t available immediately after the game for comment.