Clovis junior defensive stopper

Tori Northcutt has played varsity since her freshman year. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Rick White: CNJ managing editor

What Clovis High junior Tori Northcutt does better than most won’t show up next to her name in the scorebook.

Northcutt relies on a combination of tenacity and a basketball IQ that’s off the chart to make life miserable for the other team’s top outside scoring threat, according to Clovis coach Miles Watters.

It’s a thankless job, but somebody has to do it.

She says: “I like the challenge. My job is to shut down the top scorer and make somebody else score.
“I enjoy knowing other people don’t want me to guard them.”
Coach says: “It takes a lot of desire and discipline to play defense,” Watters said. “There’s not much glory in it.
“The thing about T-bird is she’s always going to do what’s best for the team.”

Girl’s got skills
Watters said although Northcutt’s athletic ability is underrated, her strength lies in her mental approach and discipline.

“She’s really hard to screen because she does such a good job of fighting over the top.”

At 5-foot-8, she’s also capable of playing any spot on the floor, Watters said.

She has a plan
Northcutt said she goes into a game trying to take away what an opponent does best.

Turning point
Northcutt said a 53-50 loss to Mayfield at home in January was a wakeup call for the defending state champions.

“We realized we can get beat if we didn’t step it up. If we stepped it up on defense we’d be hard to beat with the way we can score.”

It was the Lady Wildcats’ last loss.

Toughest player to guard
Madison Spence, Mayfield. “They set so many screens for her,” Northcutt said.

Toughest teammate to guard
Sophomore Ebony Bunton. “She’s my height and she’s so quick,” she said.

Looking ahead
With the team’s top three scorers graduating, Northcutt will be asked to score more next year. To get ready, Northcutt stays after every practice to shoot and will not leave until she makes 100 baskets — which usually takes about a half hour.

Fast fact
In three years, Northcutt has not fouled out of a high school game.

By the numbers
Northcutt is averaging 8 points and three assists a game. Her season high was 15 at Carlsbad earlier this month.

Getting personal
Nickname: T-Bird
Favorite school subject: math
Favorite player: Duke’s J.J. Reddick
Favorite college team: Tennessee Lady Vols
She wants to be: a physical therapist
Favorite basketball memory: Last 1.6 seconds of last year’s 49-46 win over Mayfield in the 2005 state title game.