Lady Cats earn share of 4-5A title

Clovis sophomore Tori Quintana looks to pass the ball around Hobbs Lezlie Varner during the second quarter of Friday’s game at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. Clovis defeated Hobbs 52-36. CNJ photo by Eric Kluth.

By Rick White

Jessica Hohn’s smile said it all.

After 2 1/2 years of frustration and close calls, Hohn and the Clovis Lady Wildcats finally defeated the Dark Lords of the boards, otherwise known as the Hobbs Lady Eagles. And they did it convincingly.

Not only did the 52-36 win Friday at Rock Staubus Gym end a seven-game losing streak to Hobbs but it also earned Clovis a share of the District 4-5A with the Lady Eagles.

“Finally,” said Hohn, a 5-foot-9 senior post who was 0-for-7 in her three-year varsity career on the hardwood against Hobbs before Friday. “Now we can relax a little.”

Brittany Blackmon led a balanced attack with 14 points while Hohn and Tori Northcutt supplied plenty of help off the bench for the Lady Wildcats (23-3, 7-1 district).

It wasn’t the only victory on the night for Clovis, which also won a post-game coin flip for home court for Monday’s playoff game between the two teams to determine the top seed in the district tournament.

In past games, Hobbs (19-7, 7-1) has outmuscled Clovis inside and on the boards. But not on this night, not against a Lady Wildcats team that has stamped itself a state contender by winning 17 of its last 18 games.

“We didn’t back down,” said Hohn, who combined with Blackmon for 18 points in the first half as Clovis built a 30-15 lead. “When they pushed, we pushed them back. And when they bumped, we bumped them back.”

Hohn finished with 11 points and added six rebounds and Northcutt added 10 points as Clovis avenged a double-overtime loss at Hobbs the first time the teams met.

“We took the double-overtime loss pretty hard,” said the 5-foot-7 Northcutt, who drained a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter after Hobbs climbed to within 10 points (36-26) for the first time since early in the second quarter. “Tonight we just came out and did what we wanted to do.”

Tori Quintana followed Northcutt’s trey with the play of the night, flicking a pass away in Hobbs’ end, chasing the ball down in front of the Clovis bench, and wiping a pass to streaking Hohn for a fastbreak layup, making it 41-26. Quintana finished with six points and six assists.

“Tori (Quintana) stepped up and made some huge defensive plays in the second half,” Clovis coach Miles Watters said. “I don’t know how she made that pass.”

Watters challenged his post players during the week to step up their game and they did.

“We just got after them and were aggressive taking the ball to the rim,” Clovis coach Miles Watters said. “The first game we were real passive in the post.

“Our guards did a good job of getting the ball inside and our posts took it the basket strong.”

Sophomore post Ashley Jackson led Hobbs (19-7, 7-1) with 12 points and eight rebounds. The bruising Jackson scored six points in the third quarter when Hobbs outscored Clovis 11-6.

“It was not a good night,” said an emotionally drained Hobbs coach Johnny Casaus as he slumped into a chair after the game. “We dug ourselves in a hole early and never could recover.”

With Clovis concentrating on leading scorer Jessica Nelson, the Lady Eagles looked tentative on offense early, managing just nine points over the first 12 minutes of the game.

Nelson, who scored 21 in the first meeting, including the game-winning basket in the second overtime, was a non-factor and finished with seven points.

“We just stayed in front of her and didn’t give her any open looks,” Watters said. “And when she drove we had people step up and contest her.”

Clovis 52, Hobbs 36
Hobbs (19-7, 7-1) —
Lezlie Varner 2 1-2 6, Leah Pritchard 0 0-0 0, Jessica Nelson 2 3-6 7, Ty Como 2 1-2 5, Emily Holmes 1 1-4 3, Kassie Boxley 0 0-0 0, Jesie Rind 0 0-0 0, Chantelle Hinjos 0 0-0 0, Ashley Jackson 5 2-2 12, Chelsea Bengel 0 0-0 0, Bradi Simpson 1 1-2 3. Totals 13 9-18 36.
Clovis (23-3, 7-1) — Tori Quintana 2 0-0 6, Melissa Roberts 0 0-0 0, Brittany Blackmon 6 2-5 14, Monique Walker 2 2-4 6, Tori Northcutt 4 1-2 10, Jessica Russell 0 0-0 0, Jessica Hohn 4 3-4 11, Aimee Hilburn 2 1-2 5, Tyisha Brown 0 0-0 0, Vanessa Vaca 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 9-18 52.
Hobbs 7 8 11 10 — 36
Clovis 16 14 6 16 — 52
3-pointers — Hobbs, Varner. Clovis, Quintana 2, Northcutt. JV score — Hobbs 48, Clovis 44.