Clovis takes tourney
Fuerte's 31, big third lifts Lady 'Cats over Knights.
Last updated 12/24/2021 at 4:42pm
CLOVIS — It’s been a while since Clovis High’s girls have won their own holiday tournament.
It’s also been a while since the Lady Wildcats had a player score more than 30 points in a game.
Both happened on Wednesday night at The Rock, where CHS overcame an early eight-point deficit to beat Organ Mountain 77-63 in the finals of the Plateau Holiday tournament.
Senior guard Yvonne Fuerte erupted for 31 points — including 20 in the second half — and the Lady Cats (10-3) finished the contest on a 37-18 run over the final 12 1/2 minutes to extend their winning streak to five games.
“We took control of the game,” Fuerte said. “Coming is as the No. 14 team (in MaxPreps Class 5A rankings) against the No. 3 team, we knew we’d have to fight.
“I really wasn’t focused on (scoring). Today, I was just playing basketball.”
It was Clovis’ first title in the event since 2014 — the tourney was canceled due to a snowstorm the following year and again last year because of COVID-19. Meantime, Fuerte’s point total was the most for a Lady Cats player since Danni Williams poured in a school-record 43 in a 2015 first-round Class 5A playoff win against Gadsden.
Senior forward Ali Thomas added a personal-best 18 points, while sophomore guard Zarai Lewis scored 15. Clovis (10-3) erupted for 68 points over the final three stanzas, taking control with a 28-15 domination of the third period.
“We knew there were some breaks in their defense if we just handled their pressure,” CHS girls coach Jeff Reed said. “ Obviously, Yvonne had a huge night tonight. I’ve been on her all year to get tougher. And Ali and ‘Z’ stepped up for us tonight.”
The game turned late in the third stanza, especially when the Las Cruces-based Knights (9-3) let their emotions get away.
Clovis was in the middle of a 17-2 run to erase a five-point deficit when Knights senior guard Harmanie Dominguez, who poured in 29 points in the contest, slammed the ball to the court in frustration after a foul was actually called on Clovis. Dominguez was given a technical foul, and Lewis converted both shots for a 54-47 lead.
Then, moments later, coach Evelyn Reyes drew back-to-back technicals and was ejected. Fuerte went to the line and made 3-of-4 shots to cap the run.
Organ Mountain got within seven in the opening minute of the fourth, but the Lady Cats went on an 11-0 surge in just under three minutes to wrap it up.
CHS employed a 2-3 zone most of the way with emphasis on Dominguez, primarily by Fuerte.
Freshman guard Jessica Roberts added 13 points for Organ Mountain, including a couple of 3-pointers to help the Knights get out to a 14-9 lead at the quarter.
“We knew No. 10 (Dominguez) was going to get hers, but I thought we did a good job of shutting down everybody else,” Reed said.
In other final-round tilts on Wednesday, Atrisco Heritage edged Miyamura 42-38 for third place, Roswell High topped Taos 47-33 for fifth and Alamogordo ran away from Los Lunas 41-19 to take seventh.
CHS returns to action next week with road trips to Laguna Acoma on Tuesday and to Bushland on Thursday.
Clovis 55, Atrisco Heritage 31 (Tuesday) — The Lady Cats took control early in this one to advance to the Plateau Classic finals for the first time since their previous title.
Lewis set her personal-best with 23 points against the Lady Jaguars, while Fuerte added 14. The Lady Cats led by 12 at halftime, then blew it open with a 17-7 charge in the final canto.
Junior guard Maya Sanchez had two 3-pointers and 15 points for Atrisco Heritage (3-5), but no one else on the team had more than five.