With Clovis’ top two scorers, senior Ashlee Pierson and Antiesha Brown, in foul trouble, the last few minutes before halftime was the perfect time for upstart Cleveland to strike.
Somebody forgot to tell the rest of the Clovis Wildcats.
Senior guard Katharine Cordova scored 12 points, including five in the last 21 seconds of the second quarter to help turn what was a close game into a 57-42 victory Friday night at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.
Clovis (23-4) moves on to an 8:15 p.m. quarterfinal at the Santa Ana Star Center against Gallup, a 53-50 winner over Manzano. Cleveland’s season ends at 16-13.
The Lady Wildcats never trailed after the run, no small task considering the first half had nine lead changes, and led by as much as 20 before holding off a final run from the Storm.
“The last two games, both Antiesha and Ashlee have had foul trouble,” said senior guard Amanda Romero, who added 10, “and it’s good that we’ve picked it up because the further we get, the more teams are going to key on them.”
Brown and Pierson came back strong, combining for 13 points in the third quarter. Pierson, who had 10 points on the night, scored the first two baskets of the third, and Brown had seven of her 16 in a 9-0 run to close out the quarter for a 44-27 advantage.
“It’s nice to have Antiesha, I love having Antiesha; we’re only going to go as far as she takes us,” Clovis coach Jeff Reed said. “But other girls have stepped up and realized, ‘I need to score some points.’”
Sara Hattis scored a game-high 22 for the Storm, whose youth showed while Clovis put together back-breaking runs of 7-0 and 10-0, then closed the night out with an 8-2 burst.
“We play hard, but we don’t always play smart,” Cleveland coach Felicia Boatman said of her team, which has no seniors. “I told them in a month, we’re going to be a much different team once all of the knowledge soaks in.”