If things come together, fourth-year coach Jeff Reed says, the Clovis High Lady Wildcats could have enough depth and talent to make a run at a Class 5A state championship this season.
Three regulars graduated from last year’s 19-10 team (2-2 District 4-5A), including top scorer Ashlee Pierson. Still, Reed believes the Lady Cats are well-positioned.
“We’ve got 11 girls that could start on any given night,” he said. “This is my ninth year as a varsity coach, and this is the most depth I’ve ever had.”
Senior post Paige Gardner and senior guard Kirsti Shough are returning starters for the Lady Cats, while junior guard Niki Cordova started parttime and senior forward Marivel Garza saw extensive duty off the bench.
Meantime, junior guard-post Jenna Sievers transferred from Portales, where she was a starter for the Lady Rams as a sophomore. And Reed has some young players, including freshmen Danni Williams and Shelby Jones, who could be ready to help at the varsity level.
Clovis lost to district rival Hobbs 61-55 in last year’s 5A state quarterfinals.
“We’ve got some really talented young players,” Reed said. “This is also the tallest team since I’ve been the girls coach, and we’ve got a good combination of guard and post play.
“This team has the potential to be a heck of a team that can compete for a state championship.”
Reed’s projected starting lineup for Tuesday’s opener at Lovington is Gardner, Shough, Garza, Cordova and senior guard Latasha Moon.
The 5-foot-8 Garza said she believes she’s ready to step up to a bigger load this season.
“Last year, with the playing time I got, I should be really confident,” she said. “We have good depth this year. If one of us is in foul trouble, we have somebody else to go to.
“I think this year if we don’t make it to the state championship it’ll be very disappointing. I know we have the potential to do it.”
Garza is anxious to see how it all plays out. In the opener, the Lady Cats hope to avenge a season-opening loss at home last season to Lovington.
“I guess on Tuesday we’ll start to figure it out,” she said. “It should be pretty exciting.”
Reed said the Lady Cats should be hard to defend because they have multiple potential scorers. He’s looking for Gardner to pick up her scoring pace, and said Sievers gives the team another weapon.
“She’s a good athlete, a good basketball player,” Reed said of Sievers. “She’s going to bring that much more depth to a team that I felt already had a lot of depth.”
The three-team district with Hobbs and Carlsbad, where senior Taylor Edmondson has reportedly signed with Washington State, figures to be competitive.
“I expect Hobbs and Carlsbad to compete just as they did last year,” Reed said. “Hobbs is going to be tough again and Carlsbad’s still got Taylor Edmondson, who could be the best player in the district.”
No. Name Ht. Yr. Pos.
3 Danni Williams 5-8 Fr. G
4 Brandi Gomez 5-8 So. G
10 Aubree Turner 5-7 Jr. G
11 Niki Cordova 5-4 Jr. G
12 Miranda Loera 5-6 Jr. G
21 Kyra Bussen 5-6 Sr. G
22 Jenna Sievers 5-10 Jr. P
23 Latasha Moon 5-6 Jr. G
24 Paige Gardner 5-10 Sr. C
30 Kirsti Shough 5-8 Sr. G
32 Shelby Jones 5-11 Fr. P
33 Marivel Garza 5-8 Sr. F
34 Meagan Brady 5-9 Jr. F
40 Carrie Sharp 5-8 So. G
Head coach: Jeff Read (4th year, 67-20). Assistant coach: Candace Jordan. Junior varsity: Petie Davis. “C” team: Traci Sievers.
22 — at Lovington, 7 p.m.
1-3 — at Gallup tournament; 8-10 — at Rio Rancho tournament; 13 — Texico, 7 p.m.; 16 — at Portales, 7 p.m.; 20 — Canyon, 5:30 p.m.; 27-29 — Plateau Holiday Classic.
3 — at Amarillo High, 6 p.m.; 7 — at Rio Rancho Cleveland, 7 p.m.; 13 — at Alamogordo, 7 p.m.; 17 — Portales, 7 p.m.; 20-21 — Milk Cow Classic; 27 — Artesia, 7 p.m.; 28 — at Roswell Goddard, 7 p.m.
3 — at Hobbs, 7 p.m.-x; 7 — Carlsbad, 7 p.m.-x; 10 — at Roswell High, 5:30 p.m.; 14 — at Carlsbad, 7 p.m.; 17 — Hobbs, 7 p.m.-x.
All Times MST. x-Denotes District 4-5A games