Clovis High’s Tori Northcutt releases the ball over Aztec’s Rayla Doty during the first half of Friday’s game in the State Farm Classic at Rock Staubus Gymnasium(CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer
For the second-straight outing, the Clovis Lady Wildcats played a near-perfect first half.
The Lady Cats jumped ahead of Aztec and cruised to a 64-46 win in the CHS State Farm Classic on Friday that was not nearly as close as the score would suggest.
Brittany Blackmon led the Lady Cats with 21 points despite barely seeing the court after halftime.
In its last two games, Clovis has outscored its opponents 65-23 in the first two quarters, including a 41-13 edge Friday on Aztec. Three days ago, Clovis jumped out to a 24-10 halftime lead against Portales.
“I was really pleased with our first quarter,” Clovis coach Miles Watters said. “We came out with a purpose and played great defense. It was about as good of a quarter as we’ve played.”
Clovis (17-2) busted out of the gate with a 12-0 run en route to a 20-5 first quarter.
Watters said defense is the reason behind his team’s first half domination in the last two games.
“I guess we made a conscious effort to apply a lot of pressure and just not give up many open looks,” Watters said.
The Lady Cats forced 28 Aztec turnovers, 18 in the first half.
The Lady Tigers (8-8) were lead by Patricia Malouff with 23 points.
Clovis sophomore guard Ebony Bunton scored 12 points and notched five assists, including a couple Sportscenter-worthy dishes.
“She’s starting to feel more comfortable with the ball in her hand,” Watters said. “I thought she set up some passes tonight that were just beautiful.”
Bunton was one of the few Clovis starters to play significant minutes in the second half.
“I think we did a good job at the beginning,” Bunton said. “I just think the people that came in (from the bench) need to step it up.”
Against mostly the Clovis reserves, the Lady Tigers outscored Clovis 33-23 in the second half.
Watters said he would like to have seen his bench play better.
“I was really disappointed with the kids that finished the game,” Watters said. “I think they can play much better than that. They have to get ready to step up to that next level and play against varsity competition. They got a little taste of what it was like in the big league.”
Despite the blowout, Clovis senior guard Vanessa O’Neal said she will never be satisfied no matter what the scoreboard says.
“(We can improve) everything,” O’Neal said. “There is always room for improvement”