in Girls Basketball

After posting a shocking District 17-3A upset of first place Maypearl, the Clifton Lady Cubs lose overtime heartbreaker at Whitney to put postseason hopes on the brink

Billed as a balanced race coming into the 2022-23 Texas high school girls basketball season, District 17-3A has not disappointed.

After posting a shocking upset of the first place Maypearl Lady Panthers, 41-39, at home last Tuesday, the Clifton Lady Cubs girls basketball team appeared on the verge of making a run at its second straight postseason berth. But following a heartbreaking 44-41 overtime loss to the arch-rival Whitney Lady Wildcats last Friday night, the Lady Cubs find themselves on the brink of elimination from the playoff chase.

With two regular season matchups remaining for the Lady Cubs (3-7 in district, 13-15 overall), Clifton’s do-or-die home finale against the West Lady Trojans (5-4, 11-12) scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed until 6 p.m. Thursday due to the icy winter weather event across North and Central Texas. Then after an open date in the schedule on Friday, the Lady Cubs will close out the district schedule on the road against Waco Harmony School of Innovation (0-9, 0-14) at 6 p.m. Feb. 7.

In the surprising thriller last Tuesday, Maypearl enjoyed a four-point lead at halftime, but the Lady Cubs surged in the third period, outscoring the Lady Panthers, 16-6. Taking a six-point advantage into the fourth period, Clifton held off a late Maypearl (8-2, 20-11) rally to secure the shocking victory. Clifton overcame 33 turnovers as the Lady Panthers committed 22 fouls. As a result, the Lady Cubs sank 13 of 22 free throw shots, while Maypearl only managed three points from the charity line.

“The team came out with a lot of energy and determination,” Clifton girls basketball head coach Whitney Holdbrook said. “We were down at halftime and talked about some adjustments that needed to be made in the second half. Then, the girls went out the third quarter and executed those adjustments.”

Freshman Avary Woosley led Clifton with 14 points and six steals, followed by junior Laylah Gaona with 10 points and three assists, along with junior Brianna Gonzalez with six points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Sophomore Camy Barsh added six points, while junior Kate Humphreys pulled down seven rebounds.

But against Whitney (4-5, 12-15) last Friday night, the Lady Cubs turned the ball over 27 times and managed to shoot only 31.7 percent from the field. After jumping out to a 15-9 lead in the first quarter, Clifton clung to a three-point advantage at halftime before trailing 32-30 after three periods. The Lady Cubs rallied in the fourth to force overtime, but Whitney responded on overtime for the crucial win.

Gonzalez led the Lady Cubs with 11 points, 11 rebounds and two assists, followed by Gaona with seven points, nine rebounds and two assists, and Humphreys with six points, eight rebounds and two steals. Woosley added six points, three assists and two steals, while junior Reagan Thomas pulled down seven rebounds, senior Carley Caniford grabbed six boards.

Going into the final week of the regular season, Maypearl remains atop District 17-3A, followed by Grandview (7-3, 22-7), Keene (6-3, 23-7) and West in the driver’s seat to claim postseason berths, while Whitney and Clifton cling to slim playoff hopes.

Opening the second round of District 17-3A competition did not turn out the way Clifton hoped as the Lady Cubs suffered a heartbreaking 39-35 rematch with the Keene Lady Chargers Jan. 17 before falling to the Grandview Lady Zebras convincing, 40-22, on the road Jan. 20.

In the loss to Keene, the Lady Cubs carried a three-point lead into the fourth period, but the Lady Chargers outscored Clifton, 11-4, down the stretch to pull out the win. Gonzalez led the Lady Cubs with 10 points and six rebounds, followed by Woosley with six points and Gaona with five points and three assists.

Against Grandview, the Lady Cubs hit on only 17.8 percent of their shots from the field as the Lady Zebras built a commanding 19-8 lead before halftime and never looked back. Sophomore Delilah Martinez led Clifton with seven points along with five rebounds, Barsh tossed in four points, while Thomas pulled a team-high six rebounds and grabbed two steals.

Snapping a three-game losing streak as they closed out the first round of District 17-3A competition, the Lady Cubs celebrated Senior Night by posting a dominating 79-3 win over the Waco Harmony Science Jan. 13.

Recognizing the Lady Cub seniors, Camryn Caniford, Carley Caniford, Kambrie Kettler, April Rowlins and Kimberlee Walker were introduced along with their parents prior to the 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.

Still trying to recover from the loss of two starters to injuries, the Lady Cubs dominated Harmony (0-9, 0-14) 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, 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. Barsh came up with a game-high four steals while tossing in seven points in only nine minutes of action.

“Four of the five seniors have been on varsity the last three seasons,” 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.”


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