Clovis High girls basketball coach Miles Watters shouts directions to senior Jasmine McDonald during practice Monday afternoon at Rock Staubus gym.
Miles Watters is getting used to rebuilding his program.
After losing three of the top players in the state to graduation following the 2005-06 season, Watters guided Clovis High’s girls to a 22-6 record last year and a berth in the Class 5A state championship game, where they lost to Mayfield.
This year, the Lady Wildcats have no full-time starters returning, and only a handful of players with significant experience.
“Our composition is completely different,” said Watters, beginning his ninth season in the program and eighth as head coach. “We’re just searching for an identity on offense, but as soon as we find out who can do what, I think we’ll have a nice bunch.”
With a roster of 11 down one for the time being by an ankle injury to junior forward Meagan Baglien, Watters said he’ll probably play five-girl rotations — at least early — in tonight’s season opener against Goddard at Rock Staubus Gym.
He’s hopeful that by season’s end, the Lady Cats will again be one of the more formidable programs in 5A.
“I really like this bunch of kids,” said Watters, who won 11 Class 2A state championships during a 15-year run at Clayton. “They work hard and they’re passionate about the game.
“We’re going to play a lot of kids. I can see us playing anywhere from 8-10 kids (regularly). It might be a different person stepping up each night.”
Junior Antiesha Brown and senior Jasmine McDonald bring back most of the experience for the inside game, while senior Janea Eshleman and juniors Mariah Sena and Brittany Johnson saw action on the perimeter last year.
“I’m excited and ready to get going,” Eshleman said. “I feel like we’re coming together as a team.
“We’ve all got to play a bigger role this year. We all have to contribute something to the team.”
Of the returning players, Brown had the best stats last season, averaging about eight points and five rebounds as a freshman.
“Antiesha’s got a lot of capabilities,” Watters said. “If she can get it going, it would really help us.
“Overall we’ve got good size, and we can put some quickness out there. It’s just going to take us a while to figure out what we have.”
Watters said the Lady Cats aren’t sure where the points will come from at this time, but he noted that several of the players made strides during the summer season.
“We’re going to have to play uptempo a little bit,” he said. “We’re not a great pressing team, but I think that’s something we’ll have to get into a little more.”
The Lady Cats have reached the 5A state championship game in three of the last four years, winning it in 2005. They were eliminated in the semifinals the next season by Gallup, the eventual champion.
Eshleman acknowledged that keeping that kind of tradition going will be a stern challenge.
“It’s kind of scary, but I think we can all handle it,” she said. “I hope we make it (to the state finals). I want to get another banner up there.”
CHS GIRLS BASKETBALL
No. Name Ht. Pos. Yr.
5 Mariah Sena 5-5 G Jr.
11 A.J. Jernigan 5-7 F Jr.
12 Jadee Isler 5-7 G Jr.
13 Janea Eshleman 5-6 G Sr.
14 Antiesha Brown 5-8 F So.
15 Kayla Breedlove 5-7 G Jr.
22 Brittany Johnson 5-7 G Jr.
23 Meagan Baglien 5-7 F Jr.
30 Kanisha Beachum 5-6 F Sr.
32 Jasmine McDonald 6-0 P Sr.
33 Jennifer Vaca 5-7 F Sr.
Head coach: Miles Watters (8th year). Assistant coaches: Regina Downing, Gabe Apodaca, Josh Littlejohn.
27 — Roswell Goddard, 7 p.m.; 29-30 — Polk-Key City Tournament at Abilene, Texas (29 vs. Abilene Wylie, 5 p.m.; 30 TBA).
1 — Polk-Key City Tournament at Abilene, Texas, TBA; 7 — Portales, 7 p.m.; 13-15 — at Rio Rancho tournament, TBA; 21 — at Lubbock Coronado, 6:30 p.m.; 27-29 — Plateau Holiday Tournament, TBA.
4 — Moriarty, 7 p.m.; 5 — Mayfield, 6 p.m.; 8 — Canyon, 5:30 p.m.; 19 — at Alamogordo, 6 p.m.; 22 — at Portales, 7 p.m.; 25-26 — Clovis Milk Cow Classic, TBA.
1 — Artesia, 7 p.m.; 8 — at Hobbs, 7:30 p.m.-x; 12 — Carlsbad, 7 p.m.-x; 15 — at Roswell High, 7 p.m.; 19 — at Carlsbad, 7 p.m.-x; 22 — Hobbs, 7 p.m.-x.
All times MST. x-Denotes District 4-5A games.