GALLUP — The Clovis High Lady Wildcats are going to the finals of the Gallup Invitational, but it wasn’t easy.
Senior post Antiesha Brown scored 16 of her game-high 24 points in the first half Friday night, and the Lady Cats built a 14-point lead before holding on for a 44-38 victory over Winslow, Ariz., in a semifinal matchup.
The Lady Cats (2-0) take on host Gallup for the title in a 7:30 p.m. tipoff today after the Bengals (5-0) dispatched Window Rock, Ariz., in Friday’s other semifinal.
Clovis led 16-2 after the first quarter, but watched the Lady Bulldogs — the Arizona state Class 3A champion in 2008 and the state runnerup with a 29-1 record last season — pull to within 41-39 in the fourth quarter.
“They ran a zone against us and got real deliberate (on offense),” CHS coach Jeff Reed said. “We weren’t patient enough against it.”
Also hurting Clovis was free throw shooting — 9-for-21 in Friday’s game after a 10-for-22 showing in Thursday’s 6-for-22 rout of Los Lunas.
“We’re going to have to figure something out there,” Reed said.
The Lady Cats led 31-17 at halftime, and still maintained a comfortable cushion after a 3-point basket by guard Amanda Romero with about five minutes left in the third period. But Reed said his team failed to score for about eight minutes as Winslow pulled close.
“We got real good shots; we just didn’t put them in the basket,” Reed said. “They’re a heck of a team. They beat us last year (59-45 in the semis), so it was good to redeem ourselves.”
Reed said his team plays a similar style to Gallup, which came into Friday’s play averaging 78 points a game. He’s just not sure the Lady Cats ready for it.
“They like to run and we like to run,” Reed said. “I just don’t know if we’re in that good of shape yet.”