Bad quarter costly for Lady Cats

Clovis senior Jessica Hohn (middle) reacts to a 57-49 loss to Mayfield in Friday’s Class 5A girls state championship game at The Pit in Albuquerque. Photo by Rick White

By Rick White

ALBUQUERQUE — Miles Watters paced the sideline like an expecting father. He called three quick timeouts in an attempt to calm his rattled team. He barked at the officials hoping for a favorable call that might switch the momentum. He made several substitutions trying to find the right mix of players.

Nothing worked. Nothing the veteran Clovis coach tried could stop Mayfield’s march to its first state championship.
Senior Ashley Gilpin fueled a decisive third-quarter run, leading Mayfield to a 57-49 win over the Lady Wildcats in the Class 5A girls state title game Friday at The Pit.

Gilpin finished with a game-high 16 points off the bench for Mayfield (26-1) and Krystal Torres made 6-of-6 free throws when Clovis was trying to make a late run in a matchup featuring two of the state’s most athletic teams.

“When I was a freshman, we were 0 and 8 in district,” said Gilpin, who scored five points in an 11-1 run that gave the Lady Trojans a 40-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter. “We came in on the bottom and went out on the top. We’ve accomplished everything we could for Mayfield in the process.”

The Trojans came at Clovis in waves, bring the Lady Wildcats’ record-breaking season to a crashing halt under a cavalcade of turnovers.

Subbing in fresh bodies at every stop in the action, Mayfield wore down the Lady Wildcats, forcing nearly as many turnovers as Clovis had shots.

“I didn’t think they could pressure us like that,” Watters said of the Lady Wildcats’ season-high 31 turnovers. “It’s hard to win a ballgame when you’re turning the ball over that many times.”

Mayfield also owned a 41-23 edge on the boards, an area that is usually a Clovis strength.

“They were more aggressive than us,” Watters said. “They were more aggressive going to the ball.”

Sophomore post Brittany Blackmon led Clovis (27-4) with 15 points despite sitting out more than half the game in foul trouble and senior Monique Walker added 13. The lady Wildcats were making their first state title game appearance since winning back-to-back titles in 1999-2000.

Watters said despite the loss the Lady Wildcats had a great season.

“We were one of the last two teams left in the state,” Watters said. “Everybody else went home.

“We won more (girls basketball) games than anybody ever has at Clovis and I think we won more games than anybody in the state.

“But give Mayfield credit. We lost to a better team tonight. They were just better.”

Mayfield’s first state title appeared improbable in the first half when Clovis took a 24-17 lead. The Lady Wildcats handled the Trojans’ array of full-court and halfcourt defenses and capitalized on their inside play.

Trailing 26-20 early in the third quarter, Mayfield cranked up the defensive intensity and Clovis crumbled under the pressure. The normally sure-handed Lady Wildcats finished the quarter with 11 turnovers and three field goal attempts.
Clovis tried to make a late run, but could only trade points with the Lady Trojans before time ran out.

“We weren’t ready for (Mayfield’s quickness),” said Clovis junior Melissa Roberts, whose defensive energy and scoring fueled Clovis’ comeback effort. “We just didn’t come out ready tonight.”

The game marked the end of the line for Clovis seniors, including Walker and Jessica Hohn, key contributors since they were sophomores. The Lady Wildcats will also graduate reserves Tyisha Brown and Vanessa Vaca.
But the Lady Wildcats return four starters, including Hilburn, Blackmon and Tori Quintana, all sophomores, plus freshman reserve Tori Northcutt.

That’s the good news. The bad news is Mayfield also returns the core of this year’s team, including freshman standout Carissa McGee and another half-dozen underclassman.

State tournaments
At Albuquerque
Friday
All Games at University Arena
GIRLS
Class 1A
Championship
Des Moines 51, Grady 36
Class 2A
Championship
Cimarron 64, Santa Rosa 57
Class 3A
Championship
Portales 63, Socorro 46
Class 4A
Championship
Kirtland Central 42, Farmington 35
Class 5A
Championship
Mayfield 57, Clovis 49
Saturday
All Games at University Arena
BOYS
Class 1A
Championship
Springer 67, Des Moines 63
Class 2A
Championship
Hope Christian 62, Dexter 60
Class 3A
Championship
Bernalillo 75, Lovington 62
Class 4A
Championship
Capital 64, Deming 60
Class 5A
Championship
Eldorado 45, Cibola 41