Lady Cats face stern test

Clovis junior Aimee Hilburn tries to grab a rebound away from Hereford senior Jamie Gerber during the first half of their game Tuesday at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

A high-pressure system originating in Lubbock will accompany the Coronado girls basketball team as they travel to Clovis tonight to face the Lady Wildcats. Expect the system to centralize about 7 p.m. inside Rock Staubus Gym.
Lady Wildcat coach Miles Watters said Coronado (13-2) will bring a full-court press for 32 minutes.

Clovis (8-0) will make turnovers, which will lead to easy Coronado baskets, Watters said.

“You just can’t ever get comfortable,” he said. “If you’re weak with your passes, you’re in trouble. You can make a mistake. You just can’t make that second, third mistake.”

The Lady Mustangs are led by forwards Kelsey Wright and Tiffany Hardwell, both averaging double-digit points a game. They aren’t tall at 5-foot-8 and 5-9, respectively, but Watters said athleticism and skill make up for it.

“I’d rather go against a 6-1 slow, non-athletic player than what we’re going against,” he said.

Watters said the last time Clovis faced a defensive scheme like Coronado’s was in last year’s state championship against Mayfield, which is why he wanted to play Coronado. He also respects Coronado’s talent — the team is ranked 10th in Texas Class 5A.

“They’re the biggest challenge of the year,” Watters said.
The Lady Cats play again at 6 p.m. Saturday against Pampa. With the focus this week on Coronado, Watters said he didn’t know much about the Lady Harvesters, but was confident the Lady Cats could handle whatever they see.

“We’re just going to go out there and play our ball,” Watters said. “Our kids are sharp enough if we need to go out and make some adjustments, we can do that.”

After the girls game, the Clovis boys take on the Harvesters. Originally, the Cats (5-0) were supposed to go to Amarillo on Friday for the return game against Caprock, but Caprock had too many games during the week and decided to cancel. On short notice, Clovis boys coach J.D. Isler scheduled a fill-in game Monday at Levelland.

The canceled game gives Clovis an extra day of shooting practice to combat Pampa’s zone defense. The Wildcats have faced a lot of zone defense so far this season, as teams have tried to neutralize Tigg Bunton and Dominique Easterlin in the post.

“Teams in the past two tournaments have kind of conformed to us, Pampa prefers zone,” Isler said.

Isler said that will force shooters Tizrick Phillips, Elliott Hita and John Props to make shots from the outside.

“I think we shoot well enough that it’ll make it hard for them to just pack it in on our post,” he said.

Isler said the Cats need to take advantage of Pampa’s size. Besides a 6-7 post, they aren’t very tall.

Pampa’s coach, Jeff Reed, is a Clovis High alum, so Isler expects a pumped-up Pampa team.