CHS GIRLS BASKETBALL: Defense keys Lady Cats past Portales

Clovis High’s Janea Eshleman, cener, drives to the lane through three Portales defenders in the Lady Wildcats’ 51-37 victory on Tuesday at Rock Staubus Gym. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

While Clovis High girls coach Miles Watters is still looking for consistency on offense from the Lady Wildcats, he’s pretty happy with their play on defense.

Struggling early, the Lady Cats used pressure defense to fuel a 9-0 run and take the lead for good in a 51-37 victory over Portales on Tuesday at Rock Staubus Gym.

Clovis (10-5) maintained control after Ebony Bunton’s basket early in the second quarter capped the run and made it 13-8, but they were unable to put the Lady Rams away.

Bunton finished with team highs of 12 points and seven rebounds for the Lady Cats. Meantime, sophomore guard Mariah Sena scored five of her nine points in the early run, including a 3-pointer.

“I thought we had a tremendous defensive effort,” Watters said. “We made it tough for (Portales) to score.

“We’re still struggling on offense. We play good in spurts, but we just lock down. We just don’t take care of the ball very well.”

Senior post Kaycee Quick led the Lady Rams (8-8) with 15 points. Portales was missing senior guard Briana Hernandez, who sustained a dislocated shoulder Thursday in a game against Roswell High.

The teams went nearly four minutes at the start of the game without scoring, but 3-pointers by Tara Johnson and Quick helped stake Portales to an 8-4 lead. Sena answered with her 3-pointer and another basket, and freshman Antiesha Brown’s steal and layup made it 11-8 at the quarter break.

The margin stayed between four and 12 points most of the way. Each time the Lady Rams started to get close, Clovis had an answer.

Portales coach Brenda Gomez was encouraged as her team prepares to enter District 4-3A competition next week against Ruidoso.

“I thought our kids stepped up and played really well,” Gomez said. “I was excited for a lot of the things we did.
“We’re getting closer to where we want to be this time of the year.”

While the Lady Cats shot 48 percent for the game, they held Portales to 30 percent from the floor.

Quick’s offense helped keep the Lady Rams within striking distance.

“Kaycee has stepped up and played really well this year, both on offense and defense,” Gomez said. “We had some kids play well tonight who don’t normally play that much.”

The Lady Cats, who ended a two-game losing streak, face Goddard on Friday and Roswell High on Saturday in the Milk Madness Classic at The Rock.