Clovis senior Melissa Roberts tips the ball away from Hereford junior Betsy Jimenez during the second half of their game Tuesday at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth
By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer
Clovis has been working extensively in practice on defense and the results showed.
Taking advantage of their quickness and depth, the Lady Wildcats pressured Hereford, Texas, into numerous bad passes and bad shots en route to a 69-39 win Tuesday at Rock Staubus Gym.
Senior guard Melissa Roberts, sophomore guard Tori Northcutt and junior post Brittany Blackmon spearheaded the defensive effort with four steals each.
Clovis (2-0) finished with 19 steals.
“We want defense to be our signature,” Clovis coach Miles Watters said.
The Lady Cats applied a press nearly the entire game. With a full-court press on in the first quarter, it took Hereford (1-8) nearly four minutes to score its first points.
“They’re playing good pressure defense,” Hereford coach Nan Cook said. “We’re struggling with it.”
Junior post Aimee Hilburn led Clovis with 18 points and Blackmon added 17. Freshman guard Ebony Bunton gave the Lady Wildcats three players in double figures with 15.
Blackmon was 6-for-6 from the field as the Lady Wildcats pounded the ball inside to the 5-foot-11 Hilburn and 5-10 Blackmon.
However, the Lady Cats turned the ball over 13 times, mostly from forcing passes inside or losing the ball off the dribble in the paint.
Hilburn said the team may have been rushing too much, but time and practice should correct the problem.
The two teams battled evenly in the third quarter after Clovis opened a 34-13 halftime lead. Hereford scored as many points in the third quarter as they did in the entire first half.
“We were just so excited we were winning that we lost some focus in the second half,” Hilburn said.
Fittingly, the game ended on a Clovis run fueled by defense.
Bunton, junior forward Vanessa O’Neal and Jessica Russell turned steals near midcourt into three straight layups to end the game.
Haley McCullough led Hereford with nine points.