Lady Wolverines hold off Clayton for district title

Texico’s Katlin Luscombe, left, goes up for a shot over Clayton’s Brittany Trujillo during Friday’s District 6-2A girls tournament championship game at Texico. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

TEXICO — Katlin Luscombe reacted on instinct, and as a result the Texico Lady Wolverines will host a first-round Class 2A state tournament game next weekend.

Luscombe grabbed a weakside rebound and scored as time expired Friday night, giving Texico a 45-43 win over Clayton in the District 6-2A tournament championship game.

Texico (23-4) will host the District 5-2A runnerup, either Lordsburg or Tularosa, in a first-round state game. The 5-2A title will be decided tonight in Tularosa.

The Lady Yellowjackets (19-9) travels to face that district’s winner next weekend.

The Lady Wolverines, who won the two regular-season meetings with the Yellowjackets by an average of 24 points, held Clayton to two field goals in the first half in opening a 20-10 lead.

Trailing 30-17 with three minutes left in the third quarter, Clayton began its comeback and tied the game 43-43 when senior Lindsey Fluhman made a free throw with 40 seconds left.

Texico held for the final shot. Luscombe grabbed Victoria Richards’ attempt from the right baseline and put it back to win it.

“It was a thing where you don’t think and afterwards you think, ‘Did I just do that?’” said Luscombe, who scored seven of her eight points in the final period. “She (Richards) did what she was supposed to do, and everything just worked out.”

Richards finished with 13 points for the Lady Wolverines, who lost guards Bryn Mayfield and Amanda Bass to fouls in the final period.

“I have to give Clayton all the credit,” Texico coach Keith Durham said. “They played their hearts out. I don’t know that we played very well, but I give them a lot of credit.”

Fluhman scored 19 points and sophomore Jaime Valdez added 15 for Clayton.

“We have a tendency to be intimidated when we come into this gym,” Lady Jackets coach Melissa Marberry said. “It’s taken a lot to convince these girls that they can play with them.

“At halftime, I told (her players), ‘Winning the game would be nice, but if we don’t I still want you to fight.’”

Luscombe admitted she was a bit taken aback by Clayton’s tenacity.

“For 32 minutes, they just kept coming at us,” she said. “We didn’t match their intensity.

“They had a lot of hunger from the first two (meetings). I was expecting their intensity, but I was expecting us to bring it as well.”