Snapping a three-game losing streak in District 17-3A, Clifton Lady Cubs overcome injuries to dominate Waco Harmony Science Academy & celebrate five seniors
It may have been scheduled earlier than usual, but Senior Night could not have come at a better time for the Clifton Lady Cubs girls basketball team. Needing a victory as they closed out the first round of District 17-3A competition, the Lady Cubs posted a dominating 79-3 win over the Waco Harmony Science Academy at home last Friday night.
Recognizing the Lady Cub seniors, Camryn Caniford, Carley Caniford, Kambrie Kettler, April Rowlins and Kimberly Walker were introduced along with their parents prior to Friday’s game. Camryn Caniford has been out the entire season with an injury sustained during volleyball season, and Walker has been playing her first year of varsity basketball after moving to Clifton last year.
“Four of the five seniors have been on varsity the last three seasons,” Clifton girls basketball head coach Whitney Holdbrook said. “They contributed 40 points out of the team’s 79 points on Friday. The seniors brought a lot of energy to the court and made it a great game to watch.”
Still trying to recover from the loss of two starters to injuries, the Lady Cubs (2-4 in district, 12-12 overall) dominated Harmony (0-6, 0-11) from the opening tipoff, jumping out to a 25-0 first quarter lead and building an overwhelming 47-3 advantage by halftime. Clifton solved it offensive woes, hitting on 41.4 percent of its shots from the field and sinking 71.4 percent of its free throws.
With four Lady Cubs scoring in double figures and nine different players sinking shots, junior Laylah Gaona tossed in a team-high 18 points along with two assists and three steals, followed by Kettler and Walker with 12 apiece as well as Carley Caniford with 11 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Sophomore Camy Barsh came up with a game-high four steals while tossing in seven points in only nine minutes of action.
Clifton will open the second round of district this week as the Lady Cubs host the Keene Lady Chargers (4-2, 21-6) at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17 before traveling to Grandview to take on the Lady Zebras (4-2, 20-6) Friday, Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. Maypearl (5-1, 17-10) leads the district race, followed by Keene and Grandview tied for second, Whitney (3-3, 11-13) in fourth and Clifton in fifth, followed by West (1-5, 5-13) and Harmony.
After losing their second starting player to a season-ending injury since District 17-3A competition began, the Lady Cubs struggled to find their offensive chemistry coming out of the Christmas break with a hard-fought 33-28 loss to Whitney at home Jan. 3 before dropping a 40-21 decision on the road to West Jan. 6.
Prior to the holiday break, Clifton lost junior Meagan Henderson to a knee injury only to see sophomore Kyndall Hunt go down with a knee injury as well coming out of the break. Riding a three-game losing streak, the Lady Cubs used an open date in the district schedule last Tuesday to try to regroup prior to resuming district competition.
“I think with this week of practice, it’s a little different than our normal schedule,” Holdbrook said. “So, we need to slow down and really fine tune some things in practice. I’m hoping it shows on Friday night, that the girls are just a little bit more comfortable working for each other. We are working some offensive changes to help them be more fluid.”
Struggling offensively during the previous two games, the Lady Cubs scored only a total of 49 points. After hitting 27.8 percent of their shots from the field against Whitney, the Lady Cubs managed to sink only 17.1 percent against West. Against Whitney, junior Brianna Gonzalez led Clifton with 10 points, while Gaona led the Lady Cubs with seven points against West.
“Honestly, it’s been tough on the offensive side of the ball,” Holdbrook said. “Defensively it wasn’t a bad night. When you give up only 40 points, that’s not terrible defense. Offensively, we got open shots, we just couldn’t get anything to fall. It just came down to that we couldn’t make shots.”
After getting a six-day break for the Christmas holidays, the Lady Cubs traveled to College Station to take part in the Aggieland Invitation Dec. 27-29, losing three of four games against quality opponents from higher classifications.
“It was good competition, we played some bigger schools,” Holdbrook said. “Really, in the long run, I think it helps us because you can’t make practices as competitive as games. So, coming out of that Christmas break, being able to get in four games against some really good opponents made us work on things we needed to work on. And it helps us to rebuild after some injuries with people needing to get comfortable with teammates playing in different spots.”
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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