RIO RANCHO — It may not qualify as a work of art, but it will go down as a championship for the Clovis High Lady Wildcats.
Senior post Antiesha Brown overcame some foul problems to score key points down the stretch Saturday night, and the Lady Cats pulled away to a 41-35 win over Manzano for the champiosnhip of the Mel Otero Invitational.
Clovis (5-1), which finished fourth in last year’s Mel Otero event but went on to post a 24-5 record for the season, rode the strong play of Brown all weekend. She scored 61 of the team’s 128 points in the three games.
Brown went to the bench early in the third period with her third foul and the Monarchs took advantage to pull even 26-26 at quarter’s end. She returned to start the fourth quarter,thouogh, promptly scoring two baskets to give the Lady Cats a lead they would not relinquish.
“We never felt out of control of the game, but t hey got after us,” Clovis coach Jeff Reed said. “(Brown’s foul problems were) part of the reach the third quarter didn’t go so well for us.”
Brown scored 15 of her points in the first half to stake the Lady Cats to a 17-13 halftime advantage. She fouled out late in the game, but by that time Clovis had the contest pretty well in hand.
Brown was one of four Lady Cats to make the all-tournament team. She was joined by senior Amanda Romero, junior Ashlee Pierson and sophomore Paige Gardner.
Manzano inched out to an 11-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Monarchs were limited to two points in the second stanza.
Reed said it’s obvious his team has things to work on, but the defense has been playing pretty well.
“Our defense wasn’t too bad,” he said. “Our defense kept us in it tonight.”
Freshman center Caroline Cantov tried to keep the Monarchs in it, finishing with 13 points. But no one else for Manzano scored more than six.
Mayfield beat Montrose, Colo., for third place, Portales got past host Rio Rancho for fiveh and Rio Rancho Cleveland downed Aztec for seventh.
The Lady Cats return to action on Saturday at Lovington.