CLOVIS — Volcano Vista made it into the state tournament in the school’s first foray into Class 5A girls high school basketball. But host Clovis made sure the stay would be a short one by ushering the Hawks out of the tourney with a 70-46 victory here Friday night.
Wildcat senior Paige Gardner hurt Volcano Vista (17-10) in almost every way possible. The forward scored 19 points, dished out five assists and had four steals. Clovis (19-9) jumped out to a 9-2 lead early and was never threatened in the round-of-16 contest.
“I think she (Gardner) was pretty fired up for this game. She stayed after our shootaround this afternoon and shot on her own,” said Clovis coach Jeff Reed. “I think she was ready to go.”
Aside from Gardner’s play, the visitors were also especially hurt by the Wildcats’ full-court press. Volcano Vista, which was led by Emma Fenske’s 17 points, coughed up 29 turnovers.
“Everybody I talked to said they couldn’t handle the press. So I told my girls we were going to strap it on them from the very beginning of the whole stinking game and see what they could do with it,” Reed said. “I thought it’d be tough for them because they’re very young and had to travel over here and play in this environment.”
Adding to the Clovis scoring column was Ashlee Pierson and Latasha Moon, who contributed 13 and 12 points respectively. Three players for Volcano Vista (Laneah Bryan, Schylar Malone and Jacklyn Alfaro) added seven each.
Up 14-8 late in the first period, Clovis stretched the lead to double digits behind consecutive baskets from Gardner and another by Niki Cordova.
“The two freshmen (starters Bryan and Hannah Fenske), this was their first experience in the state tournament, and now they know what they need to do to prepare,” Volcano Vista coach Lisa Villareal said. “We didn’t do a very good job with our press-breaker. Clovis is athletic; they’re quick and just a very good team.”
At the 5A state quarterfinals Tuesday, Clovis will meet district rival Hobbs, which narrowly beat the Wildcats in the teams’ two prior meetings.