Serving the High Plains

Lady Rattlers corral Clayton

Anticipating a tough game against Clayton, the Tucumcari girls basketball team instead took firm control by the second quarter during a commanding 61-21 win Friday at its Homecoming.

The victory at the Snake Pit was made more impressive because the Lady Rattlers lacked a starter. Senior forward Aaliyah Brown suffered a severely sprained ankle early in the Raton game three days before and probably will be sidelined at least a week.

"That's the first game where we've played a full ballgame," a pleased Tucumcari coach Gary Hittson said. "I was expecting a battle. I thought it would've come down to the last two to three minutes of the game."

Tucumcari finished 2-2 on the week, losing to state-ranked West Las Vegas and Pecos but defeating Raton. The Lady Rattlers' record was 11-5.

Ashley Shipley led a balanced Lady Rattlers' attack Friday with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Alexus Lafferty added 17, Jasmine Jones 12 and Reece Goldston 11. The game was rescheduled from Thursday because of icy weather.

Undaunted by Clayton's size advantage, Tucumcari stormed to a 20-point lead by intermission and ballooned it to 40 by late in the third quarter. The Lady Rattlers logged two scoring runs of 20-2 as their defense clamped down on the Yellowjackets.

Tucumcari's stout defensive performance wasn't a coincidence, Hittson indicated.

"We've been working a lot on our man defense," he said. "We just shut them down."

The lopsided game led to a couple of semi-comedic moments. Inbounds passer Shipley, noting an opposing defender's back to her near the Tucumcari hoop, in two instances bounced the ball off her backside, picked it the ball and drove to the hoop. One led to an easy basket; the other produced to a shooting foul and two more points.

Mandy Crisp led Clayton with 10 points. The Yellowjackets, ranked eighth in Class 2A by, fell to 9-8.

Pecos 67, Tucumcari 45

The host Panthers roared to a 26-7 lead in the first quarter en route to a 67-45 win Saturday over Tucumcari.

Goldston led the Lady Rattlers with 16 points. Shipley added 14 points and Jones 10.

"We had way too many turnovers; a lot of the turnovers were unforced," Hittson said. "After playing seven games in 10 days, I think the traveling took a toll on the girls; we played only one of those games at home. We have not been able to rest and recover from the injury bug."

Pecos, ranked fifth in Class 2A by, improved to 14-3.

West Las Vegas 56, Tucumcari 42

An uncharacteristic shooting slump doomed Tucumcari during a 56-42 road loss Jan. 13 at West Las Vegas.

Trailing just 29-21 after one half, the Lady Rattlers were outscored 17-7 in the third period to give the Lady Dons a 46-28 advantage. Tucumcari shot only 33% from the field.

Hittson said fatigue played a big role in his team's shooting woes in its fourth game in five days.

"We couldn't throw the ball into the ocean," he said. "We couldn't buy a shot. It showed that we were tired. Everything we shot was short."

Jones scored 19 points to lead Tucumcari. Shipley added 12 points and 15 rebounds.

West Las Vegas, ranked sixth in Class 3A by, improved to 10-4.

Tucumcari 69, Raton 18

The Lady Rattlers overwhelmed the Tigers 69-18 during a road game Jan. 14 that essentially was over by intermission.

Tucumcari stormed to a 20-6 lead in the first quarter that ballooned to 46-12 by halftime.

"It was hard to tell how good we looked," Hittson said. "We had some nice stuff happen, but we had some bad stuff happen, too."

Shipley scored 32 points with 10 rebounds and eight steals. Jones added 16 points and Goldston 12.

Raton fell to 2-10.