RIO RANCHO — Clovis High’s girls, defending champions in the Mel Otero Invite, got off to a good start in their title defense on Thursday.
Senior Ashlee Pierson’s 19 points led a balanced attack, and the Lady Wildcats pulled away in the second half to blow out rebuilding Las Cruces High 70-45.
Clovis (3-2) meets neighboring Portales, a 40-26 winner over host Rio Rancho High, in a 7 p.m. semifinal today.
The Lady Cats struggled early, but pressure defense helped eventually put the Lady Bulldawgs (1-5) away.
“We came out sloppy and a little bit out of control,” Clovis coach Jeff Reed said. “We seemed to wake up more and more as the game went on.
“Our press got going and they really couldn’t handle it very well. Then we started to settle down (on offense) and take better shots.”
The Lady Cats outscored Cruces 38-22 in the second half after leading by nine at the intermission.
“We were never in trouble, but it felt good to get control of the game,” Reed said.
Senior guard Khaira Loera and junior guard Kirsti Shough each reached season highs, scoring 14 and 13 points, respectively. Shough had three of the Lady Cats’ six 3-point baskets.
“It was nice to have well-rounded scoring,” Reed said. “Las Cruces was trying to change up their defenses on us, we were hitting some outside shots.”
Sam Mendoza, Sharayal Newton and Kaily Madden each scored eight points for the Lady Bulldawgs, who face Rio Rancho in a consolation semifinal today.
Reed said tonight’s game will be a contrast in styles, with Portales (4-1) trying to control tempo and the Lady Cats looking to speed things up.
“We’ll have to do a good job of getting Portales to play our game,” he said.