By Jesse Wolfersberger
ALBUQUERQUE — As his team approached the state tournament, Clovis coach Miles Watters preached to his starters that early fouls were bad news.
In the Lady Wildcats’ first game in Albuquerque, they got in foul trouble again. It didn’t cost them the game, but it helped to give them a scare.
The top-seeded Lady Cats played a strong second half and bounced the ninth seed, La Cueva, out of the Class 5A state tournament 55-38 on Tuesday in The Pit in Albuquerque.
In the first two minutes of the game, seniors Aimee Hilburn and Brittany Blackmon picked up their first foul.
“I just need to stop reaching,” Hilburn said. “But it’s hard. It’s like a cookie, you just want to grab it and eat it. It’s hard.”
Clovis struggled the rest of the half, going into the break with a slim 27-24 lead.
Blackmon went 9-of-11 from the floor to lead all scorers with 18 points. Hilburn finished with 16 for the Lady Cats (27-2).
Sophomore guard Brenna Freeze scored 11 for La Cueva (21-9).
This was the second meeting between the teams this season, Clovis pounding La Cueva 68-40 in the first matchup on Dec. 29.
Watters said he was proud of his team for playing better after halftime.
“I think what we’re really pleased about is the second half,” Watters said. “We don’t usually give up 24 points in a half, of course Brittany and Aimee got into a little foul trouble. An ugly win beats the heck out of a pretty loss.”