By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer
Roxanne Luera said the big black plastic brace doesn’t bother her anymore, despite how mechanical and unnatural it may look wrapped around her right knee.
It hasn’t affected her shooting.
The 5-foot-9 senior has been an offensive spark plug for the Clovis Lady Wildcats early this season. She’s averaging 6.8 points a game and her outside shooting has taken some pressure off Brittany Blackmon and Aimee Hilburn. The two post players are averaging in double figures for unbeaten Clovis (4-0).
Luera experienced a season-ending knee injury on Jan. 9 while driving to the hoop late in a game, causing her to miss last season’s playoff run and some of this fall’s volleyball season.
“I came out playing better than what I expected,” Luera said. She said she only thinks about the knee when driving to the basket.
Clovis coach Miles Watters said Luera is playing better now than before the injury.
“She’s a little more under control,” he said.
Watters said in last Friday’s 58-47 win at Portales, the Portales Lady Rams collapsed on Clovis’ post players, forcing the offense to go to the perimeter. In response, Luera and junior guard Tori Quintana each hit three 3-pointers.
Watters said he expects teams to copy the Lady Rams’ strategy and the outside shooters must respond, starting this weekend at the 5th Annual Mel Otero Rio Rancho Invite. Two of the Lady Cats’ four losses last year came in the Invite — to Dallas J.F. Kimball and Rio Rancho. Both are back this year.
Meanwhile, the Clovis boys (2-0) open play in the Artesia City of Champions Classic. The tournament will mark the first time the Wildcats have been at full-strength. Seven football players from Clovis’ state-runnerup team joined the team this week.
Clovis boys coach J.D. Isler said playing three games in three days is the best way to get the football players up to speed and in sync with the team.
“You can’t simulate game intensity all the time and this should bring them along a little quicker,” Isler said.
“They’re used to playing for 5 to 6 seconds and having time to recover,” he added. “They’re not used to playing that long without a rest.”
He expects the team to struggle offensively with the new faces, but still has high expectations on defense.
“You don’t need as much chemistry on defense,” Isler said.
The ’Cats offense may be without senior point guard Tizrick Phillips. He was home sick on Wednesday and his status is questionable for the first game of the tournament against El Paso Austin.
Isler said Austin is big inside and likes a slow pace. The ’Cats like up-tempo play.