Strong first quarter propels Lady Cats

CNJ staff

GALLUP — St. Pius pushed the Clovis High girls a bit in the quarterfinals of Thursday’s Gallup Invitational, but in the end the Lady Wildcats had too much.

Clovis opened a 26-15 lead after one quarter and then played the Sartans pretty even the rest of the way en route to a 73-61 victory. The Lady Cats (2-0) will face Miyamura, a 57-54 winner on Thursday over Winslow, Ariz., in a 6 p.m. semifinal today.

The Lady Cats’ four returning starters all finished in double figures, led by junior guard Danni Williams with 24 points. Clovis went 21-of-24 from the free throw line, and it was enough to keep St. Pius and its 3-point attack (seven for the game) at arm’s length.

“We did some OK things offensively, and we shot the ball well,” CHS coach Jeff Reed said. “We just couldn’t pull away. They (Sartans) did a heck of a job of pushing the ball up the floor against us.”

“They did not back down. They were draining open shots all night long.”

The Lady Cats worked around three fouls each for starters Shelby Jones and Nichelle Hyman in the first half. Hyman and senior guard Brandi Gomez, who had 16 points, eventually fouled out.

Jones and senior forward Carrie Sharp each finished with 10 points, while Hyman added eight.

Junior guard Natalie Zamora led the Sartans (2-1) with 15 points. Caitlyn Fattor (three), Juliana Gurule (two) and Amanda Sanchez (two) combined for all seven St. Pius 3-pointers, accounting for all of their 21 points.

“I think they’ll be a good (Class) 4A team, if they shoot the ball like they did today,” Reed said. “It was good for us to be pushed like that.”

In the other semifinal, at 7:30 p.m., host Gallup faces Rio Rancho Cleveland. The Lady Bengals routed Wingate 95-38 on Thursday, while Cleveland got past Kirtland Central 60-54.

The championship game is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, or 6 p.m. if Gallup loses in the semifinals.