Lady Cats hand Canyon first setback

Clovis High's girls left no doubt they can play with quality teams Friday night.

Sophomore guard Danni Williams posted her sixth 20-point outing of the season and the Lady Wildcats made key plays throughout the fourth quarter to knock off previously unbeaten Canyon 52-48 at The Rock.

CMI photo: Tony BullocksClovis senior guard Niki Cordova pokes the ball away from Canyon junior Taylor Jones during the first half of Friday night's girls matchup at Rock Staubus Gym. The Lady Wildcats handed Canyon its first loss of the season, beating the Lady Eagles 52-48.

Williams went 8-of-12 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line for the Lady Cats (8-1), who jumped out 8-0, never trailed in the first half and then turned a four-point deficit into a 10-point lead with an 18-4 blitz covering most of the final period.

Junior guard Brandi Gomez added 10 of her 14 points in the final quarter, while senior guard Niki Cordova scored all eight of her points in the second half.

"We really emphasized defense this week because we knew they were really disciplined," Williams said. "We knew we'd have to play defense to win."

Clovis used a 1-3-1 zone defense in the second half to try to the Lady Eagles off their game a bit.

CMI photo: Tony BullocksClovis sophomore Danni Williams looks to pass the ball to a teammate during the first half of Friday's game against Canyon at The Rock. Williams scored 22 points in the Lady Wildcats' 52-48 victory.

"When we went to the 1-3-1, it kind of caught them off-guard," Williams said. "They were slowing it down and making us play defense, but it helped us (get some turnovers and) some transition buckets."

The Lady Cats stunned Canyon (16-1), the top-ranked team in Texas Class 4A, at the start, holding the Lady Eagles without a field goal for nearly five minutes. Clovis led by eight points three times in the first half before Canyon tied it late.

A free throw by senior Aubree Turner with two seconds left put the Lady Cats back in front 24-23 at halftime.

The win was the 100th for CHS coach Jeff Reed (100-25) in five seasons at the helm.

"They're too good not to come back," he said of the Lady Eagles. "But every time they made a run, we weathered it."

Junior post Madison Parker scored 17 points and senior guard Kyndal Davis added 14 for Canyon.

"It was a good game for both teams to play," said longtime Lady Eagles coach Joe Lombard, who is now 1,145-103 in 35 seasons at Canyon. "Obviously, we're disappointed we didn't win, but we just didn't play well enough to beat a good team."

Canyon took its first lead early in the third quarter and opened with an 8-2 run for a five-point advantage. Williams and Cordova each contributed four points to push the Lady Cats back in front 34-31, but junior Shelby Bartley tied it with a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

Baskets by Parker and Davis sent Canyon back in front 38-34 just over a minute into the final quarter, but Gomez converted two free throws, then hit all three attempts on a 3-shot foul and followed with a 3-point play for a 44-40 lead with 4:56 to go.

Canyon's Lauren Hiner made two of three free throws, but baskets by Shelby Jones, Cordova, Williams and Gomez stretched it to 52-42 with just over a minute left.

"We saw some other people step up," Reed said. "It's a big win for our program, any time you can beat Canyon."

The Lady Eagles missed seven consecutive 3-point tries in the final quarter before Davis hit one with two seconds left.

"I really like Jeff's team," Lombard said. "No. 3 (Williams) had a great game, but they've got other players too. I think they'll be a tough matchup for a lot of folks."

Clovis shot 49 percent (18-of-37), converted 15-of-17 free throws and had just nine turnovers to 13 for Canyon.

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