On paper, it would seem to be a rebuilding year for the Clovis High girls basketball team.
Coming off back-to-back 24-5 campaigns that ended in Albuquerque in the Class 5A state tournament quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, the Lady Wildcats return only two players — senior guard-post Ashlee Pierson and junior post Paige Gardner — who saw significant time a year ago.
Third-year coach Jeff Reed, however, is not about to give up the ship.
“I think we’re going to be all right,” said Reed, a 1992 CHS graduate who began coaching girls for the first time when he returned to his alma mater. “I think a lot of teams are gunning for us, especially in the southeast part of the state.
“They think this is the year to beat us, considering we lost seven seniors. But I told the girls, ‘Do you want to check this one off to a rebuilding year or step up to the challenge?’”
With so little varsity experience, the Lady Cats are counting heavily on the 5-foot-7 Pierson, who averaged around 11 points and six rebounds last season, and the 5-10 Gardner, who filled in off the bench but brings athleticism to the floor.
“We’re starting off new; we have to rebuild everything,” Pierson said. “We just need to keep our enthusiasm and keep on working hard.”
Pierson has ridden in the shadows of Antiesha Brown, now at Texas Tech, the past couple of years. She said she’s ready to be the go-to player.
“I’m just trying to lead the team and see how things go,” the soft-spoken Pierson said. “Last year we worked well as a team, but this is a new year.
“I’m just trying to play the way I did (before) and work on the little things.”
With two full years of varsity experience under her belt, Reed is counting on good things from Pierson.
“More than anybody else, this is her team to lead,” he said. “She’s going to have to take that responsibility and put it on her shoulders.”
Projected starters with Pierson and Gardner for Tuesday’s opener against Lovington are 5-6 senior guard Chelsea Wallace, 5-4 senior guard Khiara Loera and 5-8 junior guard Kirsti Shough. Wallace is the team’s point guard, while Shough and Loera will be looked to for outside shooting.
Candidates off the bench are 5-4 sophomore guard Niki Cordova, 5-10 junior post Alek Mendoza, 5-6 junior guard Latasha Moon, 5-8 junior post Marivel Garza, and junior guard Kendra Gibbons.
The Lady Cats are also looking for help from 5-8 senior post Samantha Myers, a transfer from Class 4A Mount Pleasant, Texas, and the daughter of new Clovis superintendent Terry Myers.
“I think this team has more depth than last year,” Reed said. “But it’s early, and we’ll have to see who steps up.”
Clovis has had its way for the most part in District 4-5A in recent years, but Reed said Carlsbad and Hobbs return most of their key players.
“I know they really want to beat us,” he said.
No. Name Ht. Yr. Pos.
3 Chelsea Wallace 5-6 Sr. G
4 Samantha Myers 5-8 Sr. P
11 Niki Cordova 5-4 So. G
12 Miranda Loera 5-6 So. G
14 Kendra Gibbons 5-4 Jr. G
15 Ashlee Pierson 5-7 Sr. G/P
22 Jacee Isler 5-5 So. G
23 Latasha Moon 5-6 Jr. G
24 Paige Gardner 5-10 Jr. P
30 Kirsti Shough 5-8 Jr. G
32 Khiara Loera 5-4 Sr. G
33 Marivel Garza 5-8 Jr. P
34 Meagan Brady 5-9 So. P
41 Alek Mendoza 5-10 Jr. P
Head coach: Jeff Reed (3rd year, 48-10). Assistant coach: Rachel Barnett. Junior varsity: Petie Davis. “C” team: Candace Jordan.
23 — Lovington, 7 p.m.
2-4 — at Gallup tournament, TBA; 7 — at Canyon, 6:30 p.m.; 9-11 — at Rio Rancho tournament, TBA; 17 — at Portales, 5:30 p.m.; 28-30 — Plateau Holiday Classic, TBA.
4 — Amarillo High, 5:30 p.m.; 8 — vs. Pojoaque at Portales, 3 p.m.; 14 — Alamogordo, 7 p.m.; 15 — Rio Rancho Cleveland, 7 p.m.; 18 — Portales, 5:30 p.m.; 21-22 — Milk Cow Classic, TBA; 28 — at Artesia, 7 p.m.; 29 — Roswell Goddard, 7 p.m.
4 — Hobbs, 7 p.m.-x; 8 — at Carlsbad, 7 p.m.-x; 11 — Roswell High, 5:30 p.m.; 15 — Carlsbad, 7 p.m.-x; 18 — at Hobbs, 7 p.m.-x.
All Times MST. x-Denotes District 4-5A games.