The Clovis High girls are back in the Plateau Holiday Classic championship.
A fourth-place finish last year ended a four-year title run for the Lady Wildcats, but they persevered in Thursday’s semifinal with a 48-32 victory over two-time defending Class 2A state champion Texico in Tuesday’s semifinals at Rock Staubus Gym.
The Lady Cats (7-3) face Alamogordo (9-2), a 48-44 winner in overtime over Portales in Tuesday’s early semifinal. Texico and Portales will play for third place.
Junior post Antiesha Brown went 9-for-12 from the field for 18 points and helped stem a Texico rally with a couple of steals in the fourth quarter. Brown also finished with 13 rebounds.
“She’s a real help to our team,” said junior guard Katharine Cordova, who had six points and three assists for the Lady Cats. “We have to get her the ball when she’s open.”
Clovis opened a 30-10 lead early in the third quarter, but the Lady Wolverines (8-3) mounted a 17-2 run to pull to 32-27 late in the period, fueled by a combined 13 points from juniors Katlin Luscombe and Victoria Richards.
“I think everybody got a little nervous,” Cordova said. “I don’t think we played to the best of our ability tonight, but I think we did all right (in the end).”
Brown scored on a feed from Jadee Isler in the final half-minute of the period, then scored two more baskets to start the final stanza, including one off a steal.
“I don’t feel like we played a very team-oriented game,” Lady Cats coach Jeff Reed said. “We just couldn’t get it going tonight.”
Pierson, a sophomore, added 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Luscombe finished with 12 points and Richards had 10 for Texico, which had an eight-game winning streak snapped.
“We got (the deficit) closed down, and then their athletes made some plays,” first-year Texico coach Ryan Autrey said. “Clovis has got a great team; they’ve got a bunch of great athletes.”
The Lady Cats held Texico to 1-for-12 shooting from the field and forced five turnovers in opening a 16-4 lead at the quarter.
Texico went 7-for-11 from the floor in the third quarter, with no turnovers. Autrey said his team’s effort was better in the second half.
“Our girls came out playing a little harder,” he said. “We want to be able to do our thing. If we get into somebody else’s (style), things are going to go wrong.”
He said playing the larger schools benefits his squad.
“We need teams like Clovis and Portales to get after us and make us better,” he said.