RIO RANCHO — Antiesha Brown’s knee was fine on Friday, and the Clovis Lady Wildcats rode her play into the Mel Otero Invitational championship game.
Brown, who went down with a right knee injury late in Thursday’s quarterfinal victory over Rio Rancho Cleveland, returned to action with a 21-point outing in a 39-28 semifinal win over Montrose, Colo.
“She just had to get it loose and she was fine,” Lady Cats coach Jeff Reed said of his 5-foot-10 senior post.
The Lady Cats (4-1) will face the winner of Friday’s late semifinal between Mayfield and Manzano in tonight’s 7 p.m. title clash.
Meantime, Portales advanced to today’s fifth-place game against host Rio Rancho High with a 44-38 win over Cleveland.
Montrose, which plays a slow style and held Portales to three points in three quarters on Thursday, flustered the Lady Cats early.
“We were in control pretty much the whole game,” Lady Cats coach Jeff Reed said. “We … got off to a slow start. They sagged in the paint on us and pretty much double-teamed Antiesha.”
Clovis worked its way to a 21-13 halftime lead before Brown was called for two quick fouls early in the third quarter, giving her four and forcing her to sit down with about five minutes left.
“We just pulled it out and Montrose wouldn’t come out on us,” Reed said.
The Lady Cats managed to keep a lead between four and eight points until Brown came back with about four minutes left. She scored seven points in the remaining time, including 5-of-7 on free throws.
“When she got going and our press got going, we were able to build the lead a little bit,” Reed said.
Clovis outscored the Indians 14-11 in the final period, going 8-for-16 from the free throw line.
Hanna Bowden led Montrose with 12 points.
Lady Rams 44, Cleveland 38 — Senior post Jenna Wagner and sophomore post Macy Mitchell combined for 11 points as Portales outscored the Storm 12-0 in the third quarter, breaking open a close game.
Mitchell finished with 14 points and Gabby Garcia added 10 for the Lady Rams (2-2), who held Cleveland to eight field goals.
Sarah Hattis, a 6-foot-3 post, led the Storm (3-3) with 15 points.
“We had to get help from different areas on her,” Lady Rams coach Clay Stout said. “We did a good job (against) her.”
Rio Rancho edged Aztec 42-41 in Friday’s early consolation semifinal. Cleveland and Aztec meet for seventh place in today’s 1 p.m. opener.