The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Lady Cats deep and determined

 


Seniors Jessica Hohn (left) and Monique Walker have been mainstays for the Lady Wildcats the past two seasons. CNJ photo by Rick White

Patience and determination.

Those are the keys to this basketball season, Clovis girls coach Miles Watters said.

That’s patience on Watters’ behalf to blend a sophomore class that is as deep as it is talented with a solid group of returning players, and determination on the part of the Lady Wildcats to play defense and rebound.

“I really believe they’re going to be exciting to watch,” Watters said in anticipation of the Lady Wildcats season-opener tonight at Lovington. “Although (the season) might be a little bit like a roller-coaster ride.

“Some nights we’re going to look awfully good, and some nights we’re going to look awful. But I really believe they’re a special bunch of kids.”

Everything else, Watters said, should take care of itself.

“They’ve already set some high goals. It’s a long road, but from what I’ve seen so far is they want to make the extra effort to be a state contender.”

“We’ve got the physical skills, but the question is, do we have the heart to go with it?”

More specifically, he said, will the Lady Wildcats put the necessary effort into rebounding and defense?

The Lady Wildcats return senior posts Monique Walker and Jessica Hohn, junior wing Roxanne Luera and sophomore Aimee Hilburn from last year’s 17-9 team that finished second in District 4-5A to state champion Hobbs and was eliminated in regionals.

Walker, a 5-foot-9 post and three-year starter, averaged team-highs of 12.7 points and seven rebounds last season.

Hilburn, who has grown two inches to 5-11, averaged 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds last year as the Lady Wildcats’ top reserve.

Watters expects her to improve on those numbers.

“Aimee’s just a hard worker and understands the game,” Watters said. “She really plays mature for her age.”

Hilburn will play more facing the basket this season, in part because of a dearth of post players.

“I feel pretty confident,” Hilburn said. “I’ve played post ever since I started playing, but feel like it’s going to be all right.”

Watters is also high on sophomore Tori Quintana, expected to replace two-year starter Chelo McElrath at point guard, and sophomore post Brittany Blackmon.

“Quintana has had a great off-season,” Watters said. “She’s made huge strides. She sees the floor so well and has great anticipation.”

Watters describes the 5-9 Blackmon as a terror on the boards and on defense.

With the improved depth and upgrade in athleticism, the Lady Wildcats also plan to play a more aggressive, up-tempo style.

“We want to run the floor more,” said Watters, who led the Lady Wildcats to the state playoffs in his first two seasons at Clovis after a storied career at Clayton that included 11 state basketball titles.

“These young kids like to get out and run and we have the depth to do it,” Watters said. “We have posts that can really run up and down the floor and we’ve been real unselfish in practice.”

On defense, Watters said he finally has the personnel to play man-to-man defense, which was the cornerstone of his state-title teams at Clayton.

“Even if we have to take it on the chin a few times during the season, we’re not giving up on it,” Watters said. “I really feel like we can go out and defend people.”

Walker is confident the blend of newcomers and returning players can work.

“We all know what we’re capable of doing,” Walker said. “It’s just a matter of doing it.”

 
 

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