Clovis High’s girls are starting to hit their stride.
Faced with an injury to junior guard Kirsti Shough which may keep her out two or three weeks, the Lady Wildcats relied on their quickness and aggressive pressure defense Saturday night to blow out Rio Rancho Cleveland 65-42 at Rock Staubus Gym.
Senior post Ashlee Pierson scored 29 points and senior guard Chelsea Wallace added 11 as the Lady Cats (11-5) won for the sixth time in seven games. Clovis struggled a bit from the field, but shot a blistering 84 percent (20-of-23) from the free throw line.
Six-foot-4 junior post Sarah Hattis scored 24 points for the Storm (8-8), but Cleveland was able to get little else going in the contest.
“We had a little lapse in the third (quarter), but other than that we played a good game tonight,” CHS girls coach Jeff Reed said. “I thought we did a good job, for the most part, against the big girl. We wanted to get a crazy pace going and try to tire her out.”
After a fairly competitive opening stanza, Clovis broke the game open with a 25-point second-period outburst for a 41-18 cushion. The Lady Cats went 17-for-19 in the half from the line.
Pierson, who missed the first free throw of the night, went 8-for-9 overall while Wallace was 7-of-8 and junior post Paige Gardner went 4-for-4.
“We could’ve done a little better, especially on defense, but we all know what had to get done,” Wallace said.
Cleveland tried to steal the momentum in the third period. The Lady Cats struggled, going 2-for-8 from the field and committing seven turnovers, but the Storm was only able to mount a 10-4 scoring advantage and still trailed by 16 points entering the final period.
Pierson took over with 13 points in the final stanza as the Lady Cats ran away.
“We just kept (the pressure) up relentlessly,” Reed said. “Chelsea stepped up tonight and scored some points. It was nice to have everybody (contribute) as a team.”
The Storm, in fact, managed only 33 shots from the field and stayed in shouting distance mainly because they also shot well from the line — 17-of-23. Hattis, consistently going over Lady Cats defenders, went 10-for-13 from the line.
Shough, the team’s top 3-point threat, fractured the thumb on her shooting (right) hand in Friday’s 81-42 blitz of Alamogordo. Reed hopes to have her back for the start of District 4-5A play in early February.