Clovis High senior Jessica Russell puts defensive pressure on Portales senior Rebekah Gonzales during Saturday’s championship game of the Plateau Holiday Classic at Rock Staubus Gym. (CNJ staff photo: Jesse Wolfersberger)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
The Clovis High Lady Wildcats may own a 25-point win over Las Cruces Mayfield earlier this season, but coach Miles Watters isn’t expecting a repeat of that when the teams clash in another rematch of the last two Class 5A state finals tonight at Rock Staubus Gym.
Mayfield took the title in 2004, but Clovis captured the crown last match in a battle of unbeatens and then rolled to a 65-40 win in the finals of the Mel Otero Invite last month at Rio Rancho.
In the second half of tonight’s twin bill, Clovis’ boys take on Frenship.
Mayfield (9-2) is coming off a 42-39 loss to El Paso Chapin on Saturday in the finals of the Memorial Medical Holiday Hoop-La in Las Cruces. Three players, including standout junior forward Carissa McGee, did not play in that game due to a team suspension.
The Lady Cats (11-1) are coming off a 45-34 win over Portales on Friday in the championship game of their own Plateau Holiday Classic. They’ve won 49 of their last 51 games dating to February 2004.
Watters said his team should face a much tougher test tonight than in the earlier matchup at Rio Rancho, in which they held McGee scoreless.
“Mayfield didn’t play very well that night, and we played very well,” Watters said. “They got in a little bit of early foul trouble and got tentative.
“But they’ve got a great program. I know they’ll come in here ready to try to atone for that loss.”
Watters noted that Clovis fell behind Mayfield early 10-4 at Rio Rancho before turning the tide.
“I hate to admit it, but we went from a man (defense) to a zone,” he said. “They really struggled (against) it.”
He said Mayfield has three quality scorers McGee, her older sister Marie, and junior guard Madison Spence.
Clovis’ boys are coming off a heart-pumping 89-88 overtime win over Pampa in the finals of the Milk Cow Classic on Friday night at Rock Staubus Gym. They come in shorthanded with sophomore guard Jaden Isler out with a broken bone in his hand and senior post Chris Finch away on a family trip.
The Wildcats (8-3) have played Frenship each of the previous three years, losing on the road twice and winning two years ago at home.
“They have three players who are about 6-5 and a point guard who is a penetrator and scorer,” Cats coach J.D. Isler said. “It’s going to be a tough matchup size-wize for us.”
Like Clovis, the Tigers (11-7) got a bit of a late start because of football playoffs. Coach Jason Dear said three of his key players helped Frenship reach the Texas Class 4A semifinals, and have been with the team for only five games.
Frenship is coming off a third-place finish in the Caprock tournament at Lubbock over the weekend, beating Class 4A fifth-ranked Palo Duro in its final contest.
Dear said the Tigers rely heavily on eight seniors, including 6-foot-2 guard Matt Beyer (16 ppg) and 6-5 post Nick Evans (11).
“It’s going to be a challenge for us,” Dear said of playing in Clovis. “They’re quick, and I know they’ve got some good shooters. Especially playing over there, I know it’s going to be a tough game.”