First-year Clovis girls coach Jeff Reed figures when the Lady Wildcats can get some outside shooting from their guards, it opens things up inside.
Senior Jadee Isler provided the punch Wednesday night, hitting three 3-pointers in a span of three minutes during the first half and the Lady Cats went on to beat Alamogordo 59-44 in the championship game of the Plateau Holiday Classic at Rock Staubus Gym.
The tourney title was the fifth in six years for the Lady Cats, who finished fourth last year.
Isler had been struggling to find her stroke early in the season, but went 6-for-10 from the floor against the Lady Tigers.
“Jadee really stepped up in the first half,” Reed said. “She was finally on fire tonight.”
Isler scored 14 points in the first half as the Lady Cats (8-3) opened a 25-17 lead. Junior Antiesha Brown, the tournament MVP, added 14 points and 12 rebounds, while sophomore Ashlee Pierson scored 12 points.
“I got off to a slow start tonight, but I think my defense got me going,” said Brown, who was 5-of-12 from the field and 4-of-9 from the free throw line. “None of my shots were falling, so I had to bust my butt on defense.”
The Lady Cats, who forced Alamo into 10 turnovers in the first 4 1/2 minutes and 28 for the game, also got nine points and three assists off the bench from senior Leia Willis.
Reed noted the Lady Cats managed to stay out of foul trouble, thus allowing them to maintain their all-out defensive pressure.
“I felt like if we’d handled their pressure a little better and we make our free throws (11-for-21), it’s not even a game,” Reed said. “But we were able to press them and they couldn’t handle it.”
The Lady Tigers (9-3), who beat Clovis in the tourney’s third-place game last year, forced a handful of turnovers to begin the second half and pulled to 25-23. Clovis then turned up its pressure again, scoring 10 points in less than 90 seconds to fuel to a 16-2 run.
“We came right back at them and put them away,” Reed said. “That’s something we haven’t been able to do (before).”
Isler said assistant coach Regina Downing helped her get on track during a Saturday morning shootaround.
“We were working on our 3s,” Isler said. “Coach Downing was talking to me and building up my confidence.”
She said the memory of last year’s fourth-place finish and loss to Alamo on the final day motivated the Lady Cats.
“It was a big disappointment,” she said. “We worked hard over the Christmas break, and everything fell into place.”
Pierson, who was in double figures off the bench in all three tournament games, joined Brown on the all-tournament team. Alamo’s Jami Harris and Brandi Tanner made the squad, along with Portales’ Macy Mitchell and Dallas Russell and Texico’s Katlin Luscombe.