RIO RANCHO — Everything seemed in place for a fairly pleasant bus ride home for the Clovis girls basketball team. Despite relegated to the third-place game of the Mel Otero Invitational in Rio Rancho, the Lady Wildcats went ahead by 10 over rival Mayfield in the second quarter behind a versatile offensive attack.
But in the end, Saturday’s game would only add to the frustration level of Clovis first-year coach Jeff Reed as Mayfield (7-2) fought its way back and eventually beat the Lady Cats 65-57.
“They started beating our press and we weren’t getting back, and it comes down to handling the basketball again with this team,” Reed said. “We just turn the ball over way too many times. We missed some opportunities we had at the end of the game to score and we just didn’t do it.”
Clovis (4-3) was in temporary control after a 15-4 run late in the first quarter and early in the second. It was a streak that included 3-pointers by Jadee Isler, Amanda Romero and Leia Willis that put the Lady Cats up 22-11.
With two minutes remaining in the second period, Clovis still held a 32-23 advantage. Antiesha Brown scored 15 to lead the Lady Cats, while Isler finished with 14.
Although scoring only four points, sophomore Ashlee Pierson contributed to Clovis’ successful spurts by hauling in 13 rebounds.
But Mayfield, led by Catheryne Chavarria’s 21 points, consistently applied its press and started to chip away. Alina Bourger’s field goal at the end of the third quarter, precipitated by a Clovis turnover, made the score 47-46 for the Trojans.
At this juncture, Brown picked up her fourth foul and headed to the Lady Cats’ bench. The Clovis junior had been instrumental not only in scoring but as an outlet in the middle of the floor to beat the Mayfield press.
Without Brown in the game, the Trojans connected on a pair of shots to start the fourth and moved the lead up to six points.
Clovis eventually cut the margin to 59-57 when Pierson put back a miss by Brown with 1:10 remaining. But Mayfield quickly answered on a bucket by Jeneca Maya and went on to score four more points in the last 20 seconds to put the game away.
Though the victors on this day, Mayfield had similar problems in keeping possession of the ball when squandering a lead against La Cueva in its own semifinal on Friday.
This time, instead of trying to milk the clock in the final minutes, the Trojans continued to attack.
“If we go back and try to delay, that’s not us,” Mayfield coach George Maya said. “We cannot do it — we cannot take care of the ball.
“When we’re running, we might throw the ball away. I may not like it, but at least it’s a little more fun.”