Lady Cats begin defense of 5A title

By Dave Wagner

CNJ sports writer

dwagner@cnjonline.com

Sixth-year Clovis High girls coach Jeff Reed says the Lady Wildcats won’t be nearly as deep as the last two seasons.

That said, don’t expect too many opponents to be shedding tears for them.

CHS went 30-2 last season en route to the Class 5A championship. While they won’t be able to play the “five-in, five-out” style of a couple of years ago, they return four starters, including probably the best player in the state in 5-foot-10 junior guard Danni Williams.

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Clovis High girls basketball coach Jeff Reed explains positioning to junior post Shelby Jones and some of her teammates during a practice session this week at Rock Staubus Gym. The Lady Wildcats begin defense of their Class 5A state championship when they host Amarillo Palo Duro on Tuesday night.

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks
Clovis High girls basketball coach Jeff Reed explains positioning to junior post Shelby Jones and some of her teammates during a practice session this week at Rock Staubus Gym. The Lady Wildcats begin defense of their Class 5A state championship when they host Amarillo Palo Duro on Tuesday night.

“We’ll be more of a conventional team,” said Reed, whose team hosts Amarillo Palo Duro in Tuesday’s season opener at The Rock. “We’ll be seven or eight deep, not nine or 10 or 11 deep like the last couple of years.”

How much of a factor that is remains to be seen, but chances are some extra minutes for Williams (19.7 ppg), 5-9 senior guard Brandi Gomez (9.8), 6-foot junior post Shelby Jones (7.0) and 5-10 senior post/guard Carrie Sharp (5.0) won’t hurt that much.

The one starter lost was point guard Niki Cordova, but Reed is counting on 5-8 junior guard Nichelle Hyman to step in and take up some of the slack.

“Niki’s leadership and experience are going to be hard to replace,” Reed said, “but as far as talent and (raw) ability I think Nichelle’s just as good. She played well for us during the summer.”

Reed said the Lady Cats are more susceptible to foul trouble or injuries.

“It really affects our style of play,” he said. “We like to run and trap, and I don’t know if we have the durability to (constantly) do that for a full season.”

Gomez, though, said the team just has to get to work.

“We’re going to have to be in really good shape,” she said. “We’ll have some depth, but it’s going to have to be the (starters) who have to step it up and be leaders if we want to win another state championship.”

Among the teams which could challenge the Lady Cats is District 4-5A rival Hobbs, Reed and Gomez said.

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Clovis junior Danni Williams averaged nearly 20 points a game last season in leading the Lady Wildcats to a 30-2 record and the state Class 5A championship.

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks
Clovis junior Danni Williams averaged nearly 20 points a game last season in leading the Lady Wildcats to a 30-2 record and the state Class 5A championship.

“Hobbs is going to be (better)” said Gomez, who has already signed to play next year at NCAA Division II and Lone Star Conference member Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. “We definitely need to get physically stronger this year.”

Behind the starters, the Lady Cats are looking for help in the backcourt from junior Ashley Gallagher and inside from senior Lakeyia Wilkins and junior Dee Briggons. Reed said a trio of potential backcourt players are not out this year for a variety of reasons.

CHS plans to dress nine players all the time on the varsity, Reed said, and add a couple of players most games of the junior varsity for depth.

He said the Lady Cats are still one of the teams to beat in 5A, just not a top-heavy favorite.

“We definitely have a good chance, but a lot more things have to go our way,” he said. “We’re going to have to be physically tougher because (key players) are going to have to play more minutes.

“We might as well embrace (having) the bullseye on our back, and that everybody’s going to give us their best shot every night. You can’t run from it, that’s for sure.”

Roster
No.    Name    Pos.    Ht.    Yr.
2    Brandi Gomez    G    5-9    Sr.
3    Danni Williams    G    5-10    Jr.
10    Ashley Gallagher    G    5-8    Jr.
14    Carrie Sharp    P/G    5-10    Sr.
15    Kajlee Huysman    G    5-8    Sr.
23    Dee Briggons    P    5-11    Jr.
24    Nichelle Hyman    G    5-8    Jr.
32    Shelby Jones    P    6-0    Jr.
40    Lakeyia Wilkins    P    5-11    Sr.
Coach: Jeff Reed (6th year, 122-26). Assistant coach: Candace Jordan. Junior varsity: Petie Davis. JV assistant: Traci Sievers.

Schedule
December
3 — Amarillo Palo Duro, 7 p.m.; 5-7 — at Gallup tournament (5 vs. St. Pius, 2:30 p.m.); 10 — at Lovington, 7 p.m.; 12-14 — at Mel Otero Invite, Rio Rancho (12 vs. Onate, 1 p.m.); 20 — at Canyon, 6:30 p.m.; 27-28 — Plateau Wireless Holiday Classic, TBA.
January
3 — at Rio Rancho Cleveland, 7 p.m.; 11 — at Alamogordo, 3:30 p.m.; 17 — at Valley, 7 p.m.; 18 — at La Cueva, 5:30 p.m.; 21 — Portales, 7 p.m.; 24-25 — Milk Cow Classic (24 vs. Lubbock Trinity Christian, 7 p.m.; 25 vs. Volcano Vista, 7 p.m.); 31 — Artesia, 7 p.m.
February
1 — at Roswell Goddard, 2:30 p.m.; 7 — at Hobbs, 7 p.m.-x; 11 — Carlsbad, 7 p.m.-x; 14 — at Roswell High, 7 p.m.; 18 — at Carlsbad, 7 p.m.-x; 21 — Hobbs, 7 p.m.-x.
x-Denotes District 4-5A games.