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Eldorado edges Clovis girls


January 17, 2018

Tony Bullocks

Clovis sophomore Madison Tolbert works her way along the baseline on a Eldorado defender in on her way to a basket in the first half of Tuesday's game at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.

CLOVIS — The old phrase ‘close but no cigar’ has seemed to haunt Clovis High girls' basketball team this season. And Tuesday night, the stogie proved elusive once again in the Lady Wildcats’ District 2-6A opener against Eldorado.

Despite battling back to erase a 10-point first-half deficit, despite leading by a point in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, the Lady ’Cats were beaten 45-42 at Rock Staubus Gymnasium, as Teya Morris’ last-second three-point attempt hit the left iron.

“Again, so many opportunities,” Clovis head coach Jeff Reed said. “We just didn’t take advantage of them.”

“I think we’ve just got to put the little things together and everything will come together,” Morris said after tossing in a game-high 13 points.

Clovis was up 38-37 midway through the fourth, before Eldorado’s junior point guard Colexi Brazier — who hadn’t scored all night — swished two three-pointers to give the Lady Eagles a 43-38 lead. And the Lady ’Cats weren’t able to overcome that late flash of Eldorado offense.

“Those were just daggers,” Reed said of Brazier’s treys.

Not helping either team’s cause was playing hot potato with the basketball, turning it over continually throughout the game. A third-quarter sequence was a microcosm of how each team cared for the ball, when Clovis guard Sydni Hill had it stolen by Eldorado’s Alexis Chavez, but Hill quickly stole it back.

Ultimately, though, missed shots at crucial junctures hurt the most.

“There are some good things we did,” Reed said, “but we’ve got to make shots. Somebody’s got to step up and make shots.”

Hurting that effort was the left-knee injury to sophomore forward Madison Tolbert, a consistent scoring threat for Clovis this season. Tolbert hit the floor in agony with 3:03 left in the second quarter and had to be helped off the court, keeping her left leg suspended as she hobbled away. She told Reed the knee collided with an Eldorado player’s knee, and she headed for an MRI, the results of which were not yet known as of press time.

“I’m just hoping it’s not serious,” Reed said.

He knows about serious injuries occurring in district openers. Just last year at Eldorado High School in Albuquerque, Morris suffered a sprained MCL, followed by a lengthy recovery period.

“It was tough,” Morris recalled. “It was tough being out.”

“It’s going to hurt us if that happens again,” Reed said. “Hopefully, it’s not that bad.”

“Hopefully there’s nothing wrong with her and we’ll have her back,” Morris said.

Morris and Tolbert have been a 1-2 scoring punch for the Lady Wildcats this season. When that punch packs a wallop, as in double-digit numbers for each player, Clovis has been hard to stop.

Tuesday night, in fact, Tolbert had already scored nine points — six in the second quarter — when she was injured.

“She was still our second-leading scorer (by game’s end),” Reed said. “It’s going to be hard to replace her scoring. Somebody else is going to have to step up.”

Yet, without Tolbert on Tuesday, Clovis did manage to erase a substantial Eldorado lead. Prior to the injury, the Lady Eagles held a 23-13 advantage, but Tolbert came back on the other end to score inside for Clovis, making it an eight-point game. Soon, though, she was gone for the night and the other Lady ’Cats were left to climb from the hole.

“People had to step up,” Morris said, “and do a little bit more.”

Like junior forward Antanishwa Molett, who came up with a steal and layup to make it 23-17.

After an Alexis Chavez jumper stretched Eldorado’s lead back to eight, Morris drove to the hoop, made the basket and drew a foul. She connected on the ensuing free throw, slicing Clovis’ deficit to 25-20 with 55.6 seconds left in the half.

On the other end, Eldorado missed a shot, got the offensive board, then missed again. Morris collected the ball and was fouled, and since her team was in the bonus, she headed back the other way for a one-and-one as 1.7 seconds remained in the second quarter. She canned the first foul shot, earning another attempt, which she also buried, pulling Clovis withing 25-22 at the break.

The Lady Wildcats carried their momentum into the third quarter, opening it with a 5-2 run that tied the game at 27. Two Kaydee Weaver field goals and Molett’s game-tying free throw did the trick.

Eldorado, though, scored five straight to gain another arm’s-length advantage late in the third. That run was followed by two Morris free throws and a bank shot from Eldorado’s Laney Lucero, so it was still a five-point difference, 34-29, at quarter’s end.

Clovis surged back again, however, opening the fourth quarter on a 7-1 run that included a Weaver putback, a Hill trey, and a jumper from Morris that lifted the Lady Wildcats into a 36-35 lead.

Eldorado’s Vivian Chavez answered quickly with her own basket, giving the Eagles a one-point edge, but with 4:11 to go, Morris handed Clovis a 38-37 lead from the free-throw line.

Then came those treys from Brazier, one from the left elbow, the other from well beyond the right.

Clovis wasn’t done, though. After Eldorado reclaimed possession, the Wildcats’ Brittni Chavez came up with a steal and layup to make it 43-40. And in the final minute, Morris collected a steal, then was fouled on a layup attempt with 39.8 seconds to go. She sank both attempts, bringing Clovis within one.

Micah Livesay scored underneath for Eldorado, which was huge, because it meant the ’Cats needed a three to tie. A trey attempt by Chavez, and seconds later, Morris’ hurried last-second chance both missed.

“I was just trying to get the shot off,” Morris said.

Tony Bullocks

Clovis senior Teya Morris pulls up for a jump shot over Eldorado junior Bella Escobar.

And so, the Lady Wildcats had seen another game go onto the right side of the win-loss column, when there were ample chances to put it in the left.

“It was a great opportunity to get Eldorado on our home floor,” Reed said. “It’s tough.”

Eldorado 45, Clovis 42

Eldorado (10-5) — Bella Escobar 6, Vivian Chavez 9, Breanne Edgar 5, Laney Lucero 10, Alexis Chavez 6, Micah Livesay 3, Colexi Brazier 6. Totals 19 4-7 45.

Clovis (9-8) — Madison Tolbert 9, Teya Morris 13, Kaydee Weaver 6, Antanishwa Molett 5, Brittni Chavez 6, Sydni Hill 3. Totals 12 16-19 42.

Eldorado 14 11 9 11 — 45

Clovis 9 13 7 13 — 42

3-pointers — Eldorado, Brazier 2, Lucero. Clovis, B. Chavez, Hill.


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