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Lady Cats state bound

Clovis senior Monique Walker grabs one of her game-high 10 rebounds. CNJ staff photo by Eric Kluth.

Tori Quintana’s teammates made sure she’d play another game.

Senior Monique Walker muscled her way to 15 points and 10 rebounds and Aimee Hilburn added 11 points and six assists as the Clovis Lady Wildcats beat Los Lunas 53-44 in a Class 5A girls regional playoff game Saturday at Rock Staubus Gym.

In winning their seventh straight game, the Lady Wildcats (26-3) earned a trip to state tournament in Albuquerque, facing Gallup on Wednesday in the semifinals. By that time, Quintana is expected to be cleared to play again.

Clovis coach Miles Watters said it took a team effort to overcome the loss of the Lady Wildcats’ sophomore point guard and floor leader, who was held out of the game because of a concussion.

“To go out and win a game against a good team without your starting point guard says a lot about this team,” Watters said. “Everybody stepped up tonight and contributed something.”

Watters said up until Thursday night he thought Quintana would be cleared to play.

The Lady Wildcats (26-3) survived a seven-minute scoreless spell in the third quarter and 18 turnovers behind a dominant inside game led by Walker, whose layup on a pass from Jessica Hohn with a little more than a minute left gave Clovis a 50-42 lead.

Brittany Blackmon added 11 points for Clovis before fouling out while Hohn chipped in eight points, including a huge putback off Walker’s missed free throw midway through the fourth quarter.

Clovis posts combed for 34 points and 23 rebounds.

“This year we’re a lot more aggressive than the last two teams I played on,” said Walker, who pulled down several huge defensive rebounds in the second half. “Playing with Aimee and Brittany has made me a lot more aggressive on the boards.”

Senior guard Paige Powers led Los Lunas (22-8) with 17 points and freshman Clarissa Krum added 11, including her second of three second half 3-pointers that pulled the Lady Tigers to within 32-29 a little more than a minute into the fourth quarter.

“The second half we hit some big buckets,” Los Lunas coach Ron Geyer said. “We’ve been shooting the three real well lately and we finally had a couple go in.

“But Clovis stepped up and made the plays when they had to.”

Hilburn, who led a solid free-throw effort for Clovis by going 9-of-9, said the Lady Wildcats really missed Quintana.

“She’s the handler,” Hilburn said. “We all had to handle the ball more, and we did all right.”

The Lady Wildcats sent Quintana out to collect the trophy for winning regionals because of what she means to the team, Hilburn said.

“She means a lot to us,” Hilburn said. “She didn’t get to play tonight and I know that was hard.”

Quintana suffered a concussion at the end of a Feb. 28 game against Eldorado when she was accidentally elbowed in the temple by a teammate.

Clovis 53, Los Lunas 44

Los Lunas (22-8) — Amber Jojola 0 1-2 1, Marlysa Sanchez 1 2-4 5, Paige Powers 5 7-7 17, Danete Jaramillo 0 0-1 0, Tiffanie Phillips 1 1-2 3, Kailene King 01 1-2 1, Kelsey Cotter 0 4-4 4, Clarissa Krum 3 2-2 11, Keri Hall 1 0-0 2. Totals 11 18-24 44.

Clovis (26-3) — Melissa Roberts 0 1-2 1, Brittany Blackmon 4 3-5 11, Monique Walker 5 5-10 15, Tori Northcutt 0 2-2 2, Jessica Russell 1 3-4 5, Jessica Hohn 2 4-6 8, Aimee Hilburn 1 9-9 11, Tyiesha Brown 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 27-38 53.

Los Lunas 7 12 7 18 — 44

Clovis 16 13 3 21 — 53

3-pointers — Los Lunas Krum 3, Sanhez. Clovis, none.