Lady Cats making strides

Clovis High’s Janea Eshleman, center, fights for control of the ball with two Portales defenders, including Dallas Russell, left, in Tuesday’s girls game at Rock Staubus Gym. The Lady Wildcats posted a 51-37 win. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

Two seasons removed from a 30-0 record and a Class 5A state championship, and hard-hit by graduation after last year’s squad went 27-3, Clovis High girls coach Miles Watters wasn’t sure what to expect this season.

Fifteen games in, the Lady Wildcats like their position.

“I feel much better about our defense,” Watters said as the Lady Cats prepare to host the Milk Madness Classic this weekend at The Rock. “We’re really starting to put that together.

“Offensively, I think we’re making strides. A lot of it is just confidence.”

Clovis faces Roswell Goddard (10-8) today and Roswell High (14-3) on Saturday in 7 p.m. games. Rio Rancho will flip-flop opponents, playing the 5:30 p.m. tilt both days.

Only senior guard Tori Northcutt and junior guard Ebony Bunton, both returning staters, saw regular varsity duty a year ago. They knew their roles were going to change, and more would be asked of them this season.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Northcutt assessed of the team’s 10-5 record. “We’ve lost a couple of games where I felt we could’ve played better, but we’re still right there.”
Their losses have come against quality opponents.

“We didn’t play our best (in a 59-46 loss) against Mayfield; we only had 11 points at halftime,” Northcutt said. “Against Sandia (a 57-45 setback in a tournament at Rio Rancho), we learned that we have to do a better job of blocking out on the boards.”
Roswell High is one of the top teams in Class 4A.

“We’re looking forward to playing Roswell High,” Northcutt said. “Coach Watters told us they’re No. 1 in 4A, so I’m sure it’s going to be a pretty good game.”

Watters said Goddard, a team the Lady Cats defeated 58-39 in late November at Roswell, and the Lady Coyotes offer different styles. He noted the Lady Rockets have size and will likely set up in a zone defense, while Roswell High is more of a finesse team which has the ability to put points on the board.