Lady Tigers back in finals

Clovis Media Inc.

BERNALILLO — The good news for the Elida Lady Tigers is they don’t think they’ve played their best basketball in this week’s Class B state tournament, yet they’re ready to play for their second consecutive title.

The top-seeded Lady Tigers overcame what coach Dan Howard called a “streaky” performance Friday to down District 2 rival Clovis Christian 50-34 and earn a spot opposite third-seeded Corona (21-4), a 57-52 winner over Grady, in today’s 4 p.m. championship game at The Pit in Albuquerque.

Despite opening a 10-2 lead over the fifth-seeded Lady Eagles (13-16), Howard said it took his team a while to get going.

“We didn’t come out real sharp,” he said. “We kind of turned it up in the third quarter. We played real streaky; we never could really break it open.”

Only four players scored for Elida (19-9), but three reached double figures led by sophomore Kaylen Jasso with 20.

“The second half, I think we came out pretty good,” Jasso said. “The first half wasn’t too good.”

It was Elida’s fifth victory this season over CCS, but the Lady Eagles made a reasonably good showing. Senior Jessica Taylor led CCS with 11 points, including 9-of-11 from the free-throw line.

“This is the first time a team from our school has made the semifinals, so that’s a real accomplishment for us,” Clovis Christian coach Max Kralicek said. “They (Lady Tigers) beat us 58-8 the first game of the year, so our kids have come a long way.”

Elida played the Lady Cardinals in mid-December at Corona and escaped with a 40-39 victory. Howard and Jasso both expect a good test.

“They’ve got some girls that are very athletic,” Howard said. “We’ll have to get back and protect the basket. They score a lot of points in transition.”

Jasso said she thinks both teams have improved since the earlier meeting.

“Both teams have changed,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a really good game.”