Clovis sophomore Aimee Hilburn shoots over Portales’ Morgan Hill during Wednesday’s championship game in the Plateau Holiday Classic at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. CNJ photo by Eric Kluth.
By Rick White
Portales had no answer for Clovis’ inside attack.
Twin posts Brittany Blackmon and Monique Walker combined for 34 points and 11 rebounds as Clovis manhandle the smaller Lady Rams in the paint en route to a 57-39 win Wednesday in the championship game of the Plateau Classic at Rock Staubus Gym.
Blackmon, a physical 5-foot-10 sophomore post, scored a game-high 19 points and on her way to earning the Most Valuable Player in the eight-team tournament.
“We did a really good job of being patient tonight and Brittany and Mo did a good job of pinning their man inside,” Clovis coach Miles Watters said. “Hey, why take a 15-footer when you can get the ball inside like that.”
Clovis (11-2) shot better than 50 percent from the field (22-of-42) and held a 25-15 edge on the boards while beating its Roosevelt County rival for the second time in two meetings this season.
Portales coach Brenda Gomez questioned her team’s effort in its biggest setback of the season.
“I don’t think we came ready to play,” Gomez said. “I think we were a little too satisfied after yesterday (a 47-45 win over previously unbeaten Rio Rancho).”
Unlike the last meeting when the Lady Wildcats rallied for a 61-59 win in the first week of December, the Lady Wildcats led the whole way.
Portales kept within striking distance with the help of 3-pointers by Erika Cook and Roni Gomez, with the latter pulling Portales within 20-17 with three minutes left in the half.
But Clovis closed the half with an 8-1 run, taking advantage of a pair of late Portales turnovers to up 30-19 at the half.
Sophomore Tori Quintana had two of her game-high eight assists in the run — one that led to Aimee Hilburn’s fastbreak basket and another that set up Walker inside.
Unable to muster an inside game and struggling to drive against an aggressive Clovis man-to-man defense, the Lady Rams never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Gomez said her team didn’t respond to Clovis’ aggressive play on the boards and on defense.
“A lot of it was the physical style of the game,” Gomez said. “We’d penetrate too deep and then we’d get hammered.
“And we didn’t even try to get an offensive rebound.”
Kassandra Richards led Portales with 11 points and Cook finished with nine.
Richards, Cook and Gomez were named to the all-tournament team.
The teams meet again in Clovis in two weeks.