Point guard Tori Quinana is one of several sophomores making an impact this season for the Lady Wildcats. CNJ photo by Eric Kluth.
By Rick White
Aimee Hilburn is starting to feel more comfortable on offense, a discomforting thought for Clovis opponents.
After struggling in her first two outings, the 5-foot, 11-inch sophomore scored in double figures in two wins over the weekend as the Lady Wildcats improved to 4-0. She scored a season-high 22 points in a 61-59 win over rival Portales.
“All great players go through slumps,” Clovis coach Miles Watters said. “But she was picking up a lot of assists and playing well overall, she just wasn’t shooting well.”
Hilburn said she and Watters worked on her shot after practice last week and it paid off — that and simply relaxing.
“I was just trying to keep my head up and not get frustrated when the shots didn’t go,” said Hilburn, who bumped her season average to 11 points over the weekend.
“Coach said I was really stiff shooting. He wanted me to put more bounce in my shot.”
Clovis hosts Levelland, Texas, at 5:15 tonight in the first game of a boys-girls doubleheader at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.
“They’re coming in with a lot of momentum after winning their tournament,” Watters said. “They beat some good teams.”
Watters said he couldn’t find out much about the Loboettes (7-3), but knows from last year’s game they are fundamentally sound, run a half-court trap, and like to switch defenses.
“It will be a good test for us,” Watters said. “The main thing will be recognizing what (defense) they’re in.”
Watters also said the Lady Wildcats need to shore up their man-to-man defense, which was picked apart by Portales.
“We had a lot of defensive breakdowns,” Watters said. “We were late on the help and ended up fouling, and we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds because we didn’t rotate correctly.”
The Clovis boys (5-0) also come into tonight’s game undefeated after upsetting state-ranked Amarillo High in the title game of Gene Messer Tournament of Champions in Canyon.
The game is sandwiched between a pair of tournaments for the Wildcats, but Clovis senior post Mario Caswell said he doesn’t sense any letdown. Clovis plays in the three-day Capitol City Tournament starting Thursday.
“Beating Amarillo was a really big win, but every game is a big game and we’ve got to be ready,” said the 6-5 Caswell, who is still working himself into basketball shape after joining the team since the football season ended.
“In football, you go hard for 10 seconds and then rest for 25. In basketball, you have to go hard all the time. Coach wants me to get out and run the floor, and that’s hard because I’m a big guy.”
Clovis coach J.D. Isler said he expects Levelland to play a 3-2 zone against the Wildcats, something Isler figures his team will see a lot of the rest of the season because Clovis’ quickness causes matchup problems.
“We worked a lot against the zone today in practice,” Isler said on Monday. “I don’t think a lot of people are going to man us.
“We want to attack the zone and we want our posts to be active inside, pin people inside.”