Lady Cats rested up for holiday tourney

By Dave Wagner

CNJ SPORTS WRITER

dwagner@cnjonline.com

After a busy start to the season with nine games in 19 days, including two tournaments, the Clovis High girls basketball team took a break for the holiday this week.

After a five-day break, CHS was back at practice on Thursday as it prepares for two games today in the Lady Wildcats’ Plateau Holiday Classic at Rock Staubus Gym.

Clovis (9-0) takes on Amarillo Caprock at noon and Sandia at 6 p.m. today in the six-team event. Other teams in the field are Gallup, Lovington and Borger, Texas.

Final-round games are set for Saturday.

“Hopefully, we’ll be fresh,” CHS coach Jeff Reed said. “I think we’ll be OK. The teams we’re playing are probably in the same boat (because of the holiday).

“Whenever you have a break like this, sometimes (the play) gets a little sloppy. But I think by tonight we’ll be back on all cylinders.”

The Lady Cats are coming off their three closest games of the season — 57-50 over Hobbs in the semifinals and 53-37 over Roswell High in the championship game of the Mel Otero Invite at Rio Rancho, and 50-45 over traditional Texas Class 4A power Canyon on the road last week.

“It’s been good for us,” junior guard Danni Williams said of the closer contests. “You’d rather be able to learn from a close win than (from) a loss.”

Clovis has relied heavily on its four returning starters this season, having graduated some of its depth from last year’s 30-2 Class 5A state championship team.

Williams, the 2013 state player of the year, leads the team at 20.2 ppg and has drawn interest from a number of strong Division I college programs. She said she plans to make a final decision in June on where she’ll play in college.

“We’re not as deep (as last year), but we’re doing better,” she said. “(The newer players) are learning their roles more.”

Caprock brought an 11-7 record into last year’s tournament and eventually finished third, but the Class 3A Lady Longhorns have struggled following graduation losses and a coaching change, Reed said. He added that Sandia has also struggled early on.

Junior post Shelby Jones, who missed the Canyon game with whiplash and concussion symptoms after an auto accident, should be ready to go for this weekend, Reed said.