Clovis High’s Tori Northcutt tries to get to the basket against Roswell Goddard’s Laura Fry, left, during Friday’s matchup at Rock Staubus Gym. The Lady Wildcats improved to 11-5 by defeating Goddard. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
It’s not set up in a traditional bracket format, with winners advancing to play each other, but the Milk Madness Classic will have a championship game of sorts today anyway.
Clovis was scheduled to play Roswell High on Saturday night at any rate, which is just as well because both squads won their opening-day games on Friday.
Clovis knocked off Goddard 71-50 at Rock Staubus Gymnasium while Roswell, the top-ranked team in Class 4A and winner over 5A teams like Mayfield and Hobbs already this season, upended Rio Rancho by a 41-36 count.
“Roswell can put five kids out there and they all can score — that’s kind of an anomaly in girls high school basketball,” said Clovis coach Miles Watters after his team won its game.
The host Lady Wildcats sprinted away from the Lady Rockets in the nightcap of the Milk Madness Classic first day, after only leading by a point midway through the third quarter.
Clovis (11-5), led by Ebony Bunton’s 17 points and 13 more from Tori Northcutt, had a couple of key buckets from Mariah Sena to pull away from a 31-30 advantage.
“We were in a scoring slump and she kind of got us going,” Watters said.
Sena picked off a Goddard pass right under the Clovis basket and scored one bucket.
Led by Tiffany Green’s 17 points, the Lady Rockets (10-9) got back to within a point on a shot by Stephanie O’Neal. Sena then popped in a 3-pointer — after a Bunton basket — to spark an 11-0 Clovis run.
“I can’t let myself get nervous,” said Sena, a sophomore who finished with eight points. ” I’ve just got to stay confident — that way, I can keep my game up.”
Goddard had fallen behind by 10 points in the second quarter before mounting a comeback.
After Clovis seized the double-digit advantage late in the third, a recurring problem for the Lady Rockets emerged again. Goddard committed five straight turnovers to start the second quarter. Late in the period, after their comeback, the Lady Rockets began repeatedly giving the ball back to Clovis.
“Our biggest problem, probably, is that we have a couple of girls of our top seven who were sick with the stomach stuff and they just ran out of gas,” said Goddard coach Troy Grant.
One Goddard player, O’Neal, is the younger sister of former Clovis High basketball player Vanessa O’Neal. The younger O’Neal scored six points in the loss while Laura Fry, who had three blocks, added 12 for the Lady Rockets.
For the Lady Cats, Antiesha Brown tallied 11 points while Jennifer Vaca contributed eight in the victory.
“It looked like we had the game in hand, but you have to give credit to (Goddard) — they put in some shots,” said Watters, whose squad scored 27 points in the final period. “It took us a while to get into a rhythm, but once we did that was some pretty good basketball there.”