By Dave Wagner
One down, three to go.
The easy part for the Clovis Lady Wildcats came on Friday night at Rock Staubus Gym, when the top-seeded, unbeaten and defending 5A champions cruised to a 67-21 victory over outmanned 16th-seed Onate.
Clovis now faces a third matchup against District 4-5A rival Carlsbad, which won at Valley 56-39 on Friday night, in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round at 8:15 p.m. at Rio Rancho’s Santa Ana Star Center.
Junior guard Danni Williams poured in 30 points and senior guard Brandi Gomez added 15 on 7-of-9 shooting as the Lady Cats (28-0) extended their overall winning streak to 34 games and their homecourt run to 39.
“It was our (seniors’) last home game,” Gomez said. “We wanted to go out with a bang and show everyone we can win another state championship.”
If nothing else, the small and relatively young Lady Knights (10-20) played hard. They just didn’t have the firepower to stay with a team like Clovis.
Sophomore Leslie Holguin hit an earlier 3-pointer to pull Onate to 4-3, but CHS went on a 15-0 run that included 3-pointers from junior guard Nichele Hyman and Williams. The game was played with a running clock from the 6:55 mark of the third quarter on.
Twelve of Onate’s points came on 4-for-11 shooting from 3-point range.
“It’s nice to get it over and get on to the next one,” CHS coach Jeff Reed said. “I was glad to be able to get out of it with no injuries, and everybody got to play.”
Clovis shot 56 percent for the game, with Williams going 10-for-15 and converting all eight of her free throws. Junior Shelby Jones had a game-high seven rebounds.
“The next game’s going to be tougher, and the next one and so on,” Reed said. “Right now, we don’t have to go 3-0; we just have to go 1-0.”
Gomez said she’s anxious to return to the Star Center, where the Lady Cats could also meet district rival Hobbs in a semifinal game. The championship is at 4 p.m. next Saturday at The Pit in Albuquerque.
“”I’m kind of nervous, but I’m excited to be back on that court,” Gomez said of the Star Center. “We need to come out with a bang again (against Carlsbad).”
Senior guard Kelsie Rosales, Onate’s leading scorer for the season at about 17 ppg, led the Lady Knights in this one with seven.