Lady Cats seek scoring punch
Last updated 11/20/2021 at 4:18pm
CLOVIS - They graduated all five starters from a scoring-challenged team, so it's pretty obvious what the Clovis High girls basketball team is looking for this season.
The Lady Wildcats, who went 5-6 in last spring's COVID-abbreviated campaign, are trying to find any scoring they can as they prepare for Tuesday's season opener at Rio Rancho Cleveland.
Still, CHS alum Jeff Reed is relatively optimistic as he begins his 14th year at the helm, and he's ready for the season to commence.
"I really like the girls' attitudes and work ethic right now," Reed said. "The jury's still out on this team, but they've been working hard in the off-season. It's time to play someone different so we can find out where we are."
Gone from the team is its leading scorer and rebounder, Hanna Nussbaumer, who averaged 12.8 ppg and seven rpg during the spring and is now playing at Eastern New Mexico University.
No one else averaged more than 5 1/2 points last season. The leading returning scorer is sophomore guard Zarai Lewis, who averaged around 4 1/2 points during the spring.
In addition to being relatively inexperienced at the varsity level, the Lady Cats don't have a whole lot of size. Their tallest player is 5-foot-9 junior post Paige Harris, who is a probable starter but is on the varsity for the first time.
Reed said the team has reasonably good quickness, and hopes the Lady Cats can use that to offset their size deficiency.
"We're going to be very small," he said. "We'll try to play fast if we can."
A starting lineup is not set, Reed said, although Harris, Lewis and junior guard/post Ali Thomas are leading candidates.
Thomas said the team will be challenged trying to replace the graduated starters, and will have to find other ways to compete with its relative lack of size.
"We're not as tall (as most other teams), so we have to make up for it from the outside," she said. "It's going to be hard at first to make up for what they did, but we have to step up and try to do what we can."
Reed said other leading candidates to crack the starting lineup as the season begins are junior post Shalanda Lefevre, junior guard Gizelle Petner, senior post Mya Slade and seniors guards Yvonne Fuerte, Luisa Chavez and Maleah Urioste.
It's been four years since the Lady Cats had a winning record (17-13). That was also the last time they made it to the postseason, where they lost in the first round to Las Cruces High.
"I want to make it to the playoffs, and I think we can if we work together," Lewis said. "That's the most important thing."
Reed said the Lady Cats have their work cut out in District 4-5A with defending Class 5A state runnerup Hobbs, a Carlsbad squad which returns virtually everyone from the spring and an improving Roswell High contingent.
"Defensively, it'll have to be a group effort," Reed said. "The biggest thing is just gaining that varsity experience. Once we get that, things are going to come around."