RIO RANCHO — The Clovis Lady Wildcats were about to put the finishing touches on a quarterfinal win Thursday in the Mel Otero Invitational when potential disaster struck.
Senior post Antiesha Brown, coming off a 35-point outing in a 70-66 loss to host Gallup in the finals of a tournament on Saturday, hit a 3-point shot to give the Lady Wildcats a 13-point lead with about four minutes left against Rio Rancho Cleveland.
Shortly thereafter, she went up to block a fast-break layup by a Storm player and came down wrong, hurting her knee.
The Lady Cats struggled for a time, but held on for a 48-38 win over the first-year Storm. Coach Jeff Reed breathed a sigh of relief afterwards, saying that Brown’s injury did not appear serious and she is day-to-day.
“She’s our main scorer, so we don’t want to lose her,” Reed said, adding that Brown would be re-examined today. “It was good we were able to hold on and do what we had to do to win the game.”
Brown finished with 17 points while junior Ashlee Pierson added 10 for the Lady Cats (3-1), who advanced to a 5 p.m. semifinal game today against Montrose, Colo., a 28-21 winner over Portales.
Clovis opened a 31-12 halftime lead, but Cleveland (3-2) was able sliced into the lead in the final two periods.
“We never lost control of the game,” Reed said. “The first quarter (ending in a 15-8 lead) was OK; the second quarter was great.
“After the first quarter, I told the team I want the score to be 30-12 by halftime.”
The Lady Cats proceeded to outscore Cleveland 16-4 in the period to do their coach one better.
“In the third quarter they really stepped up defensively on us (holding CHS to five points),” Reed said. “We played good in spots. We’re just not as disciplined as we need to be yet.”
Mayfield and Manzano won earlier quarterfinal games on Thursday and meet in today’s 7 p.m. semifinal.
The championship game is at 7 p.m. on Saturday.