Clovis sophomore Aimee Hilburn drives to the hole. CNJ staff photo Rick White.
By Rick White
Tori Quintana dribbles the ball across the top of the key, patiently waiting like a lioness to pounce on prey until teammate Brittany Blackmon seals her defender down low. A feathery no-look lob pass. An easy two points.
Aimee Hilburn receives the ball at the free-throw line, dribbles left, and flicks the ball over a defender to Monique Walker on the block. Another easy basket. Later, Hilburn passes up a breakaway layup and instead slips the ball to a Tori Northcutt for a score.
It’s the kind of unselfish passing that had Clovis coach Miles Watters smiling Friday after the Lady Wildcats beat Lovington 78-58 at Rock Staubus Gym for their ninth-straight win.
Watter said Quintana and Hilburn, two-thirds of Clovis’ superb sophomore triumvirate, often sacrifice their own scoring opportunities in favor of setting up teammates. They combined for 16 assists Friday.
“Tori is really good at looking off defenders,” Watters said. “I think the defenders sort of relax and Tori puts it up than and Brittany and Mo go get it.”
Running at every opportunity, Clovis (15-2) broke the game open with a 17-2 spurt in the third quarter. Northcutt’s fastbreak layup off another Hilburn feed made it 60-38 with two minutes left and squelched Lovington’s upset bid.
“Our posts understand that if they get out and run they’re going to get rewarded,” Watters said. “Our guards did a great job of picking their eyes up and pitching the ball ahead.”
Blackmon, a 5-foot-10 sophomore post, scored a game-high 23 points and Walker added 11, giving Clovis 34 points from its starting posts.
Lovington coach Pilar Carrasco said his team simply couldn’t match up with Clovis inside.
“They’re inside game is unbelievable,” Carrasco said. “And they do just as good of a job getting inside. They’re just so physical and big.”
Clovis has done a better job of pushing the ball up floor as of late, which is resulting in a lot of easy baskets.
“Our posts run the floor so well,” Quintana said. “We’re a fast-breaking team, but it took us a while to get in shape.”
The game looked like another Clovis blowout early as the Lady Wildcats raced to a 20-4 lead six minutes into the game.
But Lovington (12-5) started heating up from outside and chipped away at the deficit. Genevieve Olivas hit a trio of 3-pointers and Jenna Compton added another as Lovington drew as close as five points midway through the second quarter.
“They kind of snuck up on us,” Watters said. “I think we got out to a big lead and kind of let up a little and they started hitting some shots.”
Olivas added another 3-pointer in the second half and finished with 18 points for Lovington.
Clovis 78, Lovington 58
Lovington (12-5) — Crystal Marquez 0 0-0 0, Jenna Compton 2 6-6 11, Kimberly Choate 4 0-0 9, Monica Perez 4 2-2 10, Genevieve Olivas 7 0-0 18, Jeskia Jameson 3 4-4 10, Jenna Domzalski 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 12-14 58.
Clovis (15-2) — Stacey Corley 0 2-4 2, Tori Quintana 1 0-0 3, Melissa Roberts 2 0-0 5, Brittany Blackmon 11 1-2 23, Monique Walker 4 3-5 11, Vanessa O’Neal 1 0-0 2, Tori Northcutt 2 3-4 7, Jessica Russell 1 2-2 4, Jessica Hohn 3 1-3 7, Aimee Hilburn 4 1-1 9, Tyisha Brown 1 3-4 5, Vanessa Vaca 0 0–0 0. Totals 30 16-26 78.
Lovington 13 17 12 16 — 58
Clovis 23 15 26 14 — 78
3-pointers — Lovington, Olivas 4, Compton, Choate. Clovis, Quintana, Roberts. JV score — Clovis 59, Lovington 34.