Lady Cats end skid

Clovis sophomore Aimee Hilburn releases a shot over Frendship’s Jennifer Pena during the first half. Hilburn led the Lady Cats with 15 points. CNJ photo by Eric Kluth.

By Rick White

In a day and age where free-throw shooting is a lost art, Clovis painted a Picasso.

Playing its fourth game in five days, Clovis made 15 straight free throws down the stretch while pulling away from Frenship, Texas, for a 61-47 win Monday at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.

The Lady Wildcats (7-2) were nearly perfect from the line for the game, finishing 23-of-25 while ending a two-game losing streak.

Clovis coach Miles Watters said the solid win was important for his young team’s confidence.

“The kids had some doubt in their faces after we lost two games in a row,” Watters said. “It was important we came back and played with some confidence. And it was good to get back to the ‘The Rock.’”

Sophomore Aimee Hilburn led a balanced attack with 15 points (7-of-8 from the line) while posts Brittany Blackmon and Monique Walker added 14 points each in a game that included eight lead changes and six ties before Clovis took the lead for good in the final minutes of the third quarter.
“We beat a very good Texas team tonight,” Watters said. “We finally got untracked offensively and ran the floor tonight.
“Brittany Blackmon got out and ran the floor and Tori Quintana was a warrior for 32 minutes out there. She sacrificed some of her own scoring opportunities to get everybody else involved.”

Quintana, a sophomore point guard, finished with eight points and eight assists.

The parade to the free-throw line started when Clovis pulled the ball and ran time off the clock while Brady was on the bench.

“When we pull the ball out, Aimee’s going to be in the middle of it because she can handle the ball and shoot free throws,” Watters said.

Ashleigh Brady led Frenship (11-3) with 22 points, including 16 in the first half when Clovis was forced to switch from man-to-man to zone.

“I felt we didn’t have anybody who could match up with her,” Watters said. “The other night, they made one 3-pointer.”

That was the other night.

Against Clovis, the Lady Tigers relied almost exclusively on Brady and 3-pointers, including four by Amanda Davidson (12 points) and two each by Brady and Katie Joplin.
“We haven’t played zone that much and we weren’t staying home on the backside,” Watters said.

The Lady Wildcats, who trailed several times in the first half, received a big boost off the bench from sophomore Jessica Russell, who supplied eight points and lots of energy on top of the Lady Cats’ 2-3 zone.

“We’ve been struggling at off guard and we talked about giving her a chance,” Watters said. “She did a great job. She shot the ball, defended, and passed the ball well.”

Russell got most of her minutes in the second half.

“I was just trying to give it my all,” said Russell, who made 6-of-6 free throws in the decisive fourth quarter. “I was just feeling really confident out there.”

Brady scored 16 points in a back-and-forth first half, including a layup off a backdoor cut that put Frenship up 19-17 early in the second quarter of the fast-paced game.

A pair of Quintana free throws and Russell’s pull-up jumper gave Clovis a 29-28 halftime lead.

Clovis took the lead for good at 43-41 on Blackmon’s layup off a Quintana feed before sealing its third home win of the season at the charity stripe.