By Kevin Wilson
CLOVIS — In a matchup between the Portales guards and the Clovis posts, it was a Clovis guard that helped make Tuesday’s game not much of a contest.
Sophomore guard Tori Quintana had a game-high 16 points and seven assists, and the Lady ‘Cats took advantage of poor Portales shooting in the first half en route to a 67-44 victory Tuesday night at Rock Staubus Gym.
After a slow start, Quintana finished 4-of 12 from the field, all from the 3-point line, and led four Lady Wildcats in double figures.
Clovis (14-2) swept the season series from Portales 3-0, winning the last two games by a combined 41 points. In each of the games, Clovis coach Miles Watters put the defensive focus on Portales’ senior guard trifecta of Erika Cook, Roni Gomez and Kassandra Richards.
“We’re just getting better and better defensively,” Watters said. “We wanted to stay in front of their three guards and not give them any threes and not foul.”
Clovis did just that, holding the trio to a combined 26 points on 7-of-28 shooting. A poor shooting night was evident for Portales (11-4). Sophomore Morgan Hill was 7-of-8 from the field and led Portales with 14 points.
“We were getting point-blank shots and really weren’t hitting those,” Portales coach Brenda Gomez said. “I think we worked really hard in the first half and we were shooting so poorly — that’s why we were so far behind.”
While things were going poorly for Portales, things couldn’t get better for Clovis. Blackmon consistently got inside positioning and used it to score 15 points. Blackmon scored three-straight baskets during a 14-2 run that bridged the first and second quarters and gave Clovis a commanding 29-14 lead.
Even when things should have gone wrong for Clovis, they didn’t. With about 90 seconds left in the second quarter, Quintana shot an airball on a 3-point attempt. It could have easily been scored on assist by the time Monique Walker (12 points) grabbed the rebound for an easy follow and a 33-17 advantage.
Portales cut the lead to eight in the third quarter and trailed by just 10 after Cook opened the fourth with a 3-pointer, but Clovis put the game out of reach by answering with an 11-0 burst.
“Portales is a very good team,” Watters said. “We were able to beat them and beat them convincingly, but they made a run and cut it to eight and I was proud that we were able to answer.”
Aimee Hilburn added 12 points for Clovis, while Roni Gomez had 10 for Portales. Cook had nine points and Richards six for the Lady Rams, who will be back in action Tuesday at Goddard.
Meanwhile, Clovis hosts Lovington Friday night. Gomez said she is interested to see how Portales’ District 4-3A opponent plays against Clovis, especially with the Lady ‘Cats’ current momentum — Clovis has won its last six by an average of 35.3 points per game.
“The kids are really hungry,” Watters said. “They’re not complacent and they know they’ve gotten better. I’d be really shocked if we had a letdown.”