Players can help coach achieve “Miles-stone”

Clovis High School girls basketball coach Miles Watters runs drills with the Lady Wildcats Wednesday afternoon in preparation for the upcoming Plateau Wireless Holiday Classic that starts today at Rock Staubus Gym. (CNJ Staff Photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

Clovis High’s girls basketball coach is closing in on another “Miles-stone.”

Less than four years after reaching 400 victories as a high school girls coach, Miles Watters is two wins away from 500 heading into the fourth annual Plateau Holiday Classic, which begins today at Rock Staubus Gym.

Since the Lady Wildcats have won the first three titles in the event, Watters would appear to have a good chance of doing it this weekend. Clovis faces Gadsden in a 6 p.m. quarterfinal game tonight.

“It’s not something you set out to try to accomplish,” said Watters, who is 498-85 at Clayton and Clovis. “It’s just a situation that tells you you’ve been in it quite a while.”

Watters was 373-57 in 15 seasons at Clayton (1979-94), winning 11 Class 2A state titles, and 125-28 since taking over in Clovis in 2001, including a Class 5A state title in 2005. Counting a three-year stint as Lubbock Christian women’s coach (84-83 from 1995-2000) and three years coaching boys (35-41 at Sudan and Clayton), his overall record as a head coach is 617-209.

“The two places where I’ve coached high school girls basketball, it’s been important (in the community),” he said. “And we’ve definitely had a lot of talent.

“The Lord’s put me in a situation where we’ve been blessed with good players and good (assistant) coaches.”

The Lady Cats (6-3) haven’t played since edging Lubbock Coronado 67-62 on Dec. 16. Watters is hoping the break in the schedule will be a positive.

“It’s such a long season,” he said. “All we’re looking for is to get better by the end of the year. Hopefully, the kids will come back refreshed and ready to go.”

The Clovis-Gadsden winner will face Alamogordo or Dexter in Friday’s semifinals. The Lady Tigers and Lady Demons meet at 4 p.m.

The other half of the bracket appears to be tougher, featuring defending Class 5A state champion Gallup against Eldorado in the 9:30 a.m. opener and defending Class 3A champion Portales against La Cueva at 2:30 p.m.

Watters said it’s a good field and there are probably several teams that could win it.
“Nobody’s heads above anybody like we’ve been in the past,” he said.

Portales, which has taken four 3A titles in the past six years, brings a 3-5 record into this year’s tournament but should be helped by the return to action of sophomore guard Tara Johnson, who sustained a torn ACL over the summer.

“She’s excited to get started,” veteran Lady Rams coach Brenda Gomez said of Johnson, who has been a PHS regular since eighth grade. “She’s kind of nervous about whether she can do the things she thinks she can do.”

Gomez said the Lady Rams, playing a large-school-heavy schedule as usual, are starting to round into form. Two years ago, Portales beat La Cueva in a quarterfinal game in the Plateau event en route to a third-place finish.

“I just hope we can compete and get better with every game,” Gomez said. “We just have quite a few (players) that haven’t had this level of experience (before this season).”

At Rock Staubus Gym
(Main gym unless noted)

Gallup vs. Eldorado, 9:30 a.m.
La Cueva vs. Portales, 2:30 p.m.
Alamogordo vs. Dexter, 4 p.m. (gym 2)
Gadsden vs. Clovis, 6 p.m.

Consolation semifinals

Alamogordo-Dexter loser vs. Gadsden-Clovis loser, 9:30 a.m. or 6 p.m.
Gallup-Eldorado loser vs. La Cueva-Portales loser, 4 p.m. (gym 2)
Championship semifinals
Gallup-Eldorado winner vs. La Cueva-Portales winner, 2:30 p.m.
Alamogordo-Dexter winner vs. Gadsden-Clovis winner, 9:30 a.m. or 6 p.m.

7th place, 9:30 a.m.
5th place, noon (gym 2)
3rd place, 2:30 p.m.
Championship, 6 p.m.

Note: Clovis will play in each of the evening sessions. Second and third games will be adjusted as necessary.