Lady Cats set to begin title defense

By Dave Wagner

CNJ sports writer

Jeff Reed and the Clovis Lady Wildcats are trying to take it one game at a time.

After being ranked No. 1 all season in New Mexico and undefeated through 28 games, the defending Class 5A state champion Lady Cats could perhaps face a familiar foe in each remaining round in their bid for a repeat title, starting with today’s 8:15 p.m. clash against ninth-seeded District 4-5A rival Carlsbad at Rio Rancho’s Santa Ana Star Center.

“We’re just ready to play,” Reed said on Monday. “Hopefully, we can put three really good games together.”Defending-the-Title

If the Lady Cats win tonight, they would face either district rival Hobbs or Volcano Vista in Thursday’s 3 p.m. semifinal game. They have four wins over the Lady Eagles (22-6) and also defeated the Lady Hawks in their own holiday tournament at The Rock.

A possible championship game opponent is No. 7 La Cueva, a victim of the Lady Cats in January at Albuquerque.

Reed has stressed the importance of not looking ahead.

“Hopefully, we’ll wake up Sunday morning and be state champions again,” he said. “But we can’t skip the process.”

Junior guard Nichele Hyman, who has returned to the starting lineup after missing a number of games in January and early February with an injury, said she doesn’t mind playing familiar teams.

“We know how they play,” he said. “We’re just taking it one game at a time. We’re focused on Carlsbad right now.”

CHS beat the Cavegirls 62-36 at Clovis in early February, but had a tougher time in the return match at Carlsbad, winning 46-38. On Friday, Carlsbad advanced with a 56-39 win at Valley.

Hyman, who missed the first meeting entirely and only played a couple of minutes in the return match, realizes the Cavegirls (20-8) may be able to build on that outing.

“At Carlsbad we came out pretty slow but we pulled (away) towards the end,” she said. “We gave them a lot of hope (for tonight).”

Reed is treating the game at Carlsbad almost like a loss.

“We didn’t play very good down there,” he said. “We didn’t lose, but I told the girls they have a chance to redeem themselves.

“We left some hope in their heads. Hopefully, we can crush that from the beginning (in this game).”

Carlsbad vs. Clovis
When: 8:15 p.m. today at Santa Ana Star Center, Rio Rancho
What: Class 5A girls state tournament quarterfinal game
Records: Carlsbad 20-8, Clovis 28-0
Radio: KCLV-FM 99.1
Previous meeting: The Lady Wildcats beat the Cavegirls 46-38 at Carlsbad on Feb. 18.
Winner: Advances to 3 p.m. game on Thursday at the Star Center against either No. 4 Hobbs or No. 5 Volcano Vista.

— Compiled by Dave Wagner