Wildcats gain revenge in summer league final

By Eric Butler

FARWELL — The last time Clovis played Portales in the Phenoms summer league, the Rams hung a 12-point loss on the Wildcats.
So, besides a small first-place trophy, Clovis had a little something extra to play for Tuesday.
The ’Cats survived a late Portales rally and held for a 46-43 win in the championship game of the West Texas/New Mexico Phenoms League at Farwell High School.
An 8-0 run over the last two minutes helped the Rams cut a one-time 44-35 Clovis lead down to one in the late-going when Megan Kabrick hit the front end of a one-and-one from the free throw line with 10 seconds remaining.
But Kabrick’s second shot rimmed out and Clovis’ Roxanne Luera yanked down a crucial defensive rebound to help seal the victory.
“We wanted revenge,” said Luera, who scored five points off the bench. “They beat us last game. Last time, they were just running the court.”
Luera, Tori Quintana and Aimee Hilburn are the only players on this Clovis team who didn’t finish the season on a junior high squad last year.
One of the new vanguard, Tori Northcutt, ended the scoring by canning two crucial free throws for the Wildcats with seven seconds remaining. Portales’ last gasp to tie was an attempted 3-pointer at the top of the key by Kassandra Richards came after the buzzer and fell short.
“We didn’t come out and play our game last time. We didn’t play very well,” said Northcutt, who sunk three of her four 3-point shots during the game and finished with 11 points. “This game, we stepped up.”
Portales coach Brenda Gomez thought the sporadic intensity of her players was a key negative for the Rams.
“We didn’t give a full effort for the entire game,” Gomez said. “Bits and pieces — one person, not another person. To beat a team like Clovis, you have to have everybody play up the entire game.
“I’m disappointed in that, because I thought they would be excited to play Clovis,” Gomez added.
Clovis was led by Brittany Blackmon’s 12 points while Portales was paced by Morgan Hill’s 10.
Blackmon and fellow Wildcats’ post player Aimee Hilburn — both sophomores at CHS next year — were in constant foul trouble. But 3-point shooting by Northcutt, Luera and Quintana in the second half helped Clovis overcome a 20-16 halftime deficit.
The ’Cats, who have thrived playing up-tempo games this summer, were successfully slowed down by Portales and scored only four points in the second quarter. The Rams’ last lead, at 25-23 midway through the third quarter, came after an Erika Cook bucket.
Hilburn then put back in her own shot to tie game which was followed by a Northcutt trey to put Clovis back on top 28-25.
“Like I told our team, I take my hat off to Portales — they’re a very good team,” said Clovis coach Regina Downing of the defending Class 3A state champs. “But I told them, ‘You’re just as good, you’re just as good as anybody — if you come out here and play like a team, you’re a hard team to beat.’”