Clovis guard Tori Northcutt grabs a rebound during the first half of Friday’s game against Artesia. The Lady Cats blew out Artesia 61-27. (CNJ staff photo: Jesse Wolfersberger)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
Clovis High’s girls were revved up Friday night.
An anticipated showdown with Artesia, ranked third in the Albuquerque Journals’ Class 4A coaches poll, never materialized.
Clicking on all cylinders from the outset, the Lady Wildcats — ranked No. 1 in Albuquerque paper’s Class 5A poll (see page 13) — improved to 19-2 with a 61-27 drubbing of the Lady Bulldogs at Rock Staubus Gym.
Senior Aimee Hilburn, who turns 18 today, scored 18 points for Clovis. She went 8-of-9 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Meantime, fellow seniors Brittany Blackmon and Tori Quintana added 14 apiece, including a perfect 7-of-7 from inside by Blackmon.
Two of Artesia’s losses were to Clovis’ District 4-5A rival Hobbs, including a four-point setback last week in Artesia. But the Lady Bulldogs (16-4) were overwhelmed from the get-go against Clovis.
“We expected it to be tough, because Hobbs barely beat them,” said senior guard Jessica Russell, who had eight of Clovis’ 22 assists. “We were all just pumped up. We played well in practice this week, and I just think we did good tonight.”
The Lady Cats hit eight of their first nine shots from the field and finished at 58 percent on 26-of-45. In addition, they forced 22 of Artesia’s 26 turnovers in the first half in building a remarkable 47-8 lead at the half.
Most of the second half was played with a running clock. The Lady Bulldogs trailed by 44 points before going on a 14-4 run over the final five minutes.
“We’ve had a great week of practice,” said CHS girls coach Miles Watters, whose team opens district play on Friday at Hobbs. “That doesn’t always equate to a great game, but we played at a very high level tonight.
“We shot the ball well tonight. We could get it inside about anytime we wanted to. JRuss seems to be able to find Brittany anytime she gets open, and Quintana and Hilburn were shooting the ball well tonight.”
While Russell finished with only two points, she knows the time may come when she has to step up and shoot the ball more.
“Coach Watters always wants me to shoot it, but I just look to pass first,” she said.
Quintana had four 3-pointers and Hilburn two, all in the first half. Artesia didn’t score in the second quarter until sophomore Ashley Leonard muscled in a basket from the lane with 15 seconds left, but Quintana buried a wide-open 3-pointer from the key as time expired.
“Everything we did tonight, the ball just fell for us,” Watters said.
The Lady Cats backed off their man-to-man and defensive pressure after halftime, working on a 2-3 zone.
Senior post Marisela Morillon led the Lady Bulldogs with 12 points, eight of them coming in the final minutes.