Lady Cats roll into tourney finals

Clovis sophomore Jessica Russell looks to release the ball over St. Michael’s Kourtney Sexauer during the first quarter of Tuesday’s semifinal game in the Plateau Holiday Classic at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. CNJ photo by Eric Kluth.

By Rick White

If Clovis isn’t careful it might have trouble finding enough teams to play in next year’s Plateau Holiday Classic.

For a second-straight night, the Lady Wildcats drubbed an overmatched opponent, beating St. Michael’s 71-27 in a semifinal game of the eight-team tournament Tuesday at Rock Staubus Gym.

Clovis coach Miles Watters has no doubt the Lady Wildcats (10-2) will face a much tougher test against Roosevelt County rival Portales in tonight’s championship game.

The Lady Rams (11-2) knocked off previously unbeaten Rio Rancho 47-45 earlier Tuesday on Kassandra Richard’s short baseline jumper in the final seconds.

Clovis rallied to beat the defending Class 3A state champion Lady Rams 61-59 in early December.

“We’ve stepped up and played hard two nights in row. Hopefully we’ll do that again tomorrow,” Watters said.

“We can’t really do a lot of things to prepare for them. We’ll just go out and do what we normally do and see if it’s good enough.”

Clovis has been more than good enough in the first two rounds of the eight-team tournament, outscoring its first two tournaments by a combined score of 145 to 52.

“I think we’re starting to show a little pride in how we played out there,” Watters said. “We could have played sloppy after having an easy time of it a second night in a row.

“But the thing is, we still played good basketball even though we were kind of dead-legged out there.”

Sophomore Brittany Blackmon and senior Monique Walker finished with double-doubles for the Lady Wildcats, who dominated the boards against the smaller Lady Horsemen.

Blackmon finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds while Walker added 13 points and 11 boards as Clovis cruised to its third-straight win.

Blackmon and Walker combined for 28 points and 15 rebounds in the first hall when Clovis raced to a 41-20 halftime lead.

“I think we came out and were just very aggressive,” Walker said. “Blocking out has been one of our problems.”

Tori Quintana added nine points and a team-high six assists for Clovis while Jessica Hohn and Aimee Hilburn chipped in eight points apiece.

Shanee Royal led St. Michael’s (2-7) with eight points.