Clovis junior Brittany Blackmon releases a shot over Lovington’s Crystal Marquez during the first half of their game Tuesday at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth
Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
You’d expect some rustiness in the opening game of the year, but Clovis junior Brittany Blackmon played the Wildcats’ lidlifter Tuesday night as if not a week had gone by since the end of last season.
Blackmon poured in 26 points on 12-for-13 shooting from the field as Clovis wiped out Lovington 85-31 at Rock Staubus Gymnasium to start the 2004-05 campaign.
But Blackmon wasn’t the only ’Cat scoring in the rout. Aimee Hilburn (19), Vanessa O’Neal (10) and Tori Quintana (10) — all juniors for Clovis — each scored in double figures.
Clovis (1-0) began the contest by forcing three straight Lovington (0-1) turnovers. That helped the home team to a 6-0 lead with only 29 seconds elapsed. Lovington, led by Crystal Marquez’ 14 points, stayed within shouting distance until a 16-2 Clovis run, beginning at the end of the first quarter, effectively put the game away.
“I think we did pretty good for our first game. We were pretty nervous,” said Blackmon, who found some technical flaws with her team’s otherwise overwhelming victory. “We didn’t block out much — at all. They shot and then they’d get it back and put it back up.”
Certainly, Lovington didn’t get many balls away from Blackmon on this night.
“She’s got the best hands, I think, of any post I’ve ever seen. You can throw it up there and she’s going to get it — it’s just amazing,” Clovis coach Miles Watters said. “She plays so powerful for her size. She’s not that big and our girls do a great job of putting it up there and letting her go get it.”
Clovis only lost two regulars — Monique Walker and Jessica Hohn — from its 2004 state runner-up team. Until late in the first quarter, all of the purple-and-white clad Wildcats were familiar to regular Clovis girls basketball supporters.
But newcomers Merichia Floyd and Raquel McCullom, both seniors, entered at that point and everyone — thanks to the runaway victory — saw ample playing time.
Roxanne Luera, a senior, and freshman Ebony Bunton each hit 3-pointers as both players contributed five points.
“I was actually proud of our girls. They fought as hard as they could, but we had a super-flyweight fighting a super-heavyweight,” said Lovington coach Pilar Carrasco, whose team committed 34 turnovers. “They’re always tough.
“I’ve always felt like we were a quality game for Coach Watters and I just wanted to give them a look to where he felt like they were getting better, too.”
“We were kind of sloppy, to say the least. And we can get so much better defensively — and we will — but, first game, you have to feel pretty satisfied that they went out and played hard,” Watters said.