For most of the game, the Clovis Lady Wildcats appeared in control.
But every time it looked like they were about to open some distance, Portales reeled them back in. The Lady Rams’ final rally, though, came up short.
Clovis never trailed, but hung on late for a 33-32 win Tuesday night at Rock Staubus Gym in Clovis, giving the Lady Cats (12-5) a three-game sweep of Portales (11-6) this season.
It wasn’t exactly the way CHS coach Jeff Reed drew it up.
“I thought when we got a little lead (in the fourth quarter), ‘Here we go; we’re finally going to put Portales away,’” he said. “Then we just stopped playing.”
Clovis, which led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, saw a 19-12 lead sliced to one when the Lady Rams — who had only one field goal through nearly 2 1/2 quarters — strung together three baskets in a span of 90 seconds.
The Lady Cats went on a 12-0 run, building a 31-18 lead on senior guard Khira Loera’s driving layup with 4:32 left.
Portales, though, made one final charge, extending its defense and flustering the Lady Cats into several turnovers. Junior post Macy Mitchell, who scored a game-high 18 points, hit a pair of 3-pointers, the last one bringing the Lady Rams within 33-32 with 1:50 left.
But they couldn’t score on any of their final three possessions, including on an inbounds pass to Mitchell from under the basket with seven seconds left. She spun into the lane, but her well-defended shot was off the mark as Clovis’ Paige Gardner grabbed the rebound.
“We had a play where I thought we could get a good look at it,” Lady Rams coach Clay Stout said. “We had a chance at the end, and that’s what you want.
“At least in the second half, we got into some type of rhythm. I was disappointed we couldn’t do that in the first half.”
Senior Ashlee Pierson led Clovis with 13 points, going 6-of-9 from the floor. The rest of the team was 8-of-27, and Portales committed 24 turnovers — 10 in its scoreless first quarter.
“It got kind of frustrating at the end,” Pierson said of playing Portales’ deliberate style. “We need to work on the little things. I don’t think we did as well as we could have, at either end of the floor.”
Portales, which shot 13-of-14 from the free throw line in an overtime loss at home to the Lady Cats in December, went 14-of-15 in this one. Clovis survived a 1-for-12 night from 3-point range, and 4-for-12 from the foul line.
“I give all the credit to Portales for fighting back,” Reed said. “They got after us and gave themselves a chance to win.”
Mitchell went 5-for-8 from the field, but her teammates were just 3-for-12. “We have to have more kids score points when they get the chance,” Stout said.