By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
ALBUQUERQUE — Clovis High’s girls knew their work was cut out for them against top-ranked Mayfield in Saturday’s Class 5A state championship game at The Pit.
Madison Spence, the state’s top girls basketball player, made their worst nightmares come true.
Spence scored 22 of her 31 points in the first half, hitting 9-of-11 shots from the floor in that time, and Mayfield ran out to an insurmountable lead en route to a 61-42 thumping of the Lady Wildcats.
Clovis (20-6) mounted a 10-0 run to temporarily get within shouting distance — 29-24 — at the start of the second half, but Mayfield quickly re-established control and cruised down the stretch.
“We knew going in that Madison was the best player in the state and, wow, did she prove it,” CHS girls coach Miles Watters said.
Mayfield (28-1), which won 28 games in a row after a season-opening loss to Roswell High, struggled in its first two games in The Pit this week.
“We started really well (today),” veteran Mayfield coach George Maya said. “We just came out today playing really hard.”
Even an early injury to starting post Emily Thatcher (ankle sprain) couldn’t slow the Lady Trojans. Her backup, 6-1 senior Mary Medford, delivered four points and eight rebounds.
“That scared me beyond belief,” Medford said of Thatcher’s injury. “I was scared for her. I asked her, ‘Are you going to be OK?’ and she just said, ‘You step it up.’”
Senior guard Tori Northcutt closed her career with a 16-point, four-assist outing. Junior Ebony Bunton added 10 points.
Both were regulars on Clovis’ 2005 state championship team, which went unbeaten and beat Mayfield 49-46 for the title.
“I did think we could get (this far),” Northcutt said. “I knew we had a bunch of girls coming up and they would work hard.”
Spence, a 5-foot-11 guard who will play for her father Darin next season at New Mexico State, hit 6-of-7 shots in the opening stanza, including a couple of 3-pointers at the end of the quarter that staked Mayfield to a 19-8 lead.
“We just came out and played like we can play,” she said. “We got a lead and made sure we could hold it.
“I didn’t feel pressure today. I just thought, ‘This is it. Just have fun.’”
The Lady Cats couldn’t find the basket in the opening half, going 7-for-21, including 0-for-7 from 3-point range.
But they hit the Lady Trojans right away when play resumed, with Bunton scoring baskets around six consecutive points by Northcutt to make it 29-24 after only two minutes.
Clovis managed five more points the rest of the period, and Medford’s two free throws in the closing seconds opened a 45-29 margin.
Watters, who coached 11 Class 2A girls state championship teams at Clayton in addition to the 2005 crown at CHS, said he was proud of his team’s accomplishments this year after losing three longtime standouts to graduation after last season in Brittany Blackman, Aimee Hilburn and Tori Quintana.