Clovis High’s girls nearly pulled off a stunning comeback Saturday night.
Trailing rival Hobbs 40-25 after a 3-pointer by the Lady Eagles freshman Danielle Patterson late in the third quarter, the Lady Wildcats rallied for a one-point lead in the final minute. Then sophomore Mackenzie Latimer converted both ends of a 1-and-1 with 7.8 seconds left, giving Hobbs a 45-44 District 4-5A victory at Rock Staubus Gym.
The Lady Eagles (16-7, 2-0 district), ranked second in Class 5A, converted 16-of-20 free throws and had just enough left at the end to hang on for their seventh win in a row after controlling the game for most of three quarters.
It was Hobbs’ first win over the Lady Cats, who are No. 5 in 5A, since the 2007-08 season. No one reached double figures for the Lady Eagles, who got nine points each from Lattimer and senior Summer Patterson.
“That’s the way we have to do it,” said Hobbs coach and former Clovis assistant Johnny Casaus. “We play a lot of people, and we have to with the way we play.”
Clovis (16-6, 0-1), which had its eight-game winning streak snapped, had trouble when the Lady Eagles went to fullcourt pressure midway through the first quarter. In addition, they had three starters — seniors Ashlee Pierson and Khira Loera and junior Paige Gardner — on the bench with three fouls each before the end of the second quarter.
CHS coach Jeff Reed, who lost to Hobbs for the first time in seven games since taking over the program in 2008-09, said opportunities to make a run were there earlier for his team.
“That’s what’s so aggravating,” he said. “Of course, I’m happy the girls made a comeback; they could’ve lost by 20 points if they had laid down, and they didn’t.
“I was disappointed we couldn’t handle the pressure Hobbs put on us.”
The Lady Cats trailed 26-18 at halftime and seemed unlikely to mount a run until their own pressure defense began to turn Hobbs over in the final period. They went on a 13-0 run over a span of four minutes, pulling even on Gardner’s layup off a feed from Pierson with 1:19 left.
The Lady Eagles countered, though, with Summer Patterson’s driving layup against pressure seconds later.
Pierson’s rebound basket tied it with 43 seconds left, then junior Kirsti Shough hit the back end of a two-shot foul after a Hobbs turnover for a 44-43 lead with 32 seconds to go. On the ensuing trip, Latimer drew Pierson’s fifth foul on the right wing with the clock winding down.
After a Clovis timeout at midcourt with five seconds left, sophomore guard Niki Clayton’s 12-footer from just inside the lane banged off the rim as time expired.
“I think we got tired at the end,” Casaus said. “The crowd got back into it, and our kids started getting shaky.”
Gardner finished with 15 points and Pierson 14, combining for 13 points in the final period. Each also had seven rebounds.
“We’ve got to shake it off and get ready for Carlsbad (on the road on Tuesday),” Reed said.