La Cueva’s Laura Burnett, left, attempts to steal the ball from Clovis High’s Antiesha Brown. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Greg Price: CNJ sports writer

A day after giving him his 500th career coaching win, the Clovis Lady Wildcats gave coach Miles Watters another reason to celebrate.

Junior Ebony Bunton scored a game-high 23 points and freshman Antiesha Brown chipped in 14 points as Clovis defeated La Cueva 55-48 to capture the Plateau Holiday Classic championship Saturday night at Rock Staubus Gym.

The Lady Cats (8-3) battled back from a six-point deficit early in the fourth quarter behind stiffling full-court pressure and nine points by Bunton to win their fourth consecutive Plateau title.

“We just kept battling and scrapping,” Watters said. “We played with so much energy those last five minutes.

“I told the girls I’d rather see a defensive performance than an offensive one.”

Junior Brenna Freeze led La Cueva (7-2) with 13 points and sophomore Brittany McIntosh added 12.

La Cueva coach Greg Berger said fatigue set in at the end.

“We didn’t go very deep into the bench,” Berger said. “I think we just ran out of steam. Even though we lost I felt we played better than the past two games we’ve won.”

Bunton and Brown traded clutch plays midway in the fourth.

After she hit two free throws, Brown kick-started the Lady Cats offense with an up-and-under layup and drew the foul with 5:38 left in the fourth. Brown missed the free throw, but Bunton sucked down the rebound and scored.

Later, Brown faked a jumper and passed to Bunton, whose dribble-drive and scoop shot put the Lady Cats ahead for good with 4:56 remaining in the game.

“I thought Ebony carried us that fourth quarter,” Watters said. “She was looking to score and when they doubled her she had some good dishes.”

Watters said Brown is getting better all the time.

“She’s a little green freshman right now, and she came up with some big rebounds for us,” Watters said.

La Cueva, which trailed by 10 points with a little more than a minute left in the first half, opened the third quarter with a 10-4 run.

McIntosh scored eight straight points for the Bears, including a layup that tied the game 29-29 midway through the third quarter.

“Everybody says you have to start the first few minutes of the third quarter well,” Watters said. “For some reason we didn’t, and they played with more energy than we did.”

The all-tournament team included Bunton and teammates Tori Northcutt and Jasmine McDonald, Freeze and sophomore Kim Lopez of La Cueva, Alamogordo’s Ashley Godfrey and Eldorado’s Chanel Sedberry.

Plateau Holiday Classic
At Rock Staubus Gym
Seventh place
Dexter vs. Gallup, ccd.
Fifth place
Portales 45, Gadsden 24
Third place
Eldorado 62, Alamogordo 39
Clovis 55, La Cueva 48