Thursday’s Clovis-Portales girls basketball matchup was the kind where the losing team could say, “What if …”
The Lady Wildcats went 8-for-21 from the free throw line, missing nine of their first 10, while Portales was 13-for-14. Conversely, the Lady Rams were 1-for-7 from 3-point range to 5-of-13 for Clovis (5-of-10 after halftime) and had 32 turnovers to 16 for the Lady Cats at the PHS gym.
In the end, Clovis prevailed 41-38 in overtime, its second win in less than a week over its rival to the south.
Senior guard Kirsti Shough scored 14 points and had three of Clovis’ 3-pointers, while senior guard Khiara Loera added a pair of treys. And in the overtime, junior post Paige Gardner, who struggled much of the night, made a couple of key defensive plays to help the Lady Cats take control.
Clovis’ top player, Ashlee Pierson, sat the final 11 minutes of the first half with two fouls, then went out for about 4 1/2 minutes near the end of the third stanza with her third personal. Portales’ top player, junior Macy Mitchell, scored 15 points but cramped up on the jump ball in the OT and sat the rest of the way.
“I knew it’d be tough to win here,” CHS coach Jeff Reed said, “but I’ll take the win.”
Mitchell scored the game’s first basket and Clovis (5-3) didn’t catch up until Pierson drove the left baseline on the first possession of the second half to make it 13-13.
The Lady Cats led 24-22 after three quarters, but needed Shough’s 3-pointer with 1:10 to go to force overtime at 35-35 after a 9-0 run put the Lady Rams (4-4) in front 33-29 with less than three minutes left.
Gardner scored her only basket of the night to stake the Lady Cats to the lead in OT, and they held on with 4-of-8 from the free-throw line.
“It was a hard-fought game on both sides,” PHS coach Clay Stout said. “We came out the third quarter and didn’t have very good communication. We lost the momentum there and had to work to get it back.”
Loera, who tweaked a knee as the overtime ended, finished with nine points for Clovis. Sophomore Jenna Sievers added 10 points and senior Gabby Garcia nine for Portales.
“Turnovers were the difference in the game,” Stout said. “We didn’t value the ball like we needed to, but our players are getting better. Clovis is a good challenge for us and they make us a better team.”
Reed said the Lady Cats’ pressure took a toll on Portales.
“We finally got it going a little more at the end,” he said. “We were able to get things a little crazy out there with our press.”