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The Lady Bulldog basketball team drew up a winning game plan of defensive-spurred offense Tuesday on the road, and the result was a 68-61 victory over the Class 5A Lady Wildcats of Clovis.

“I felt like we had a pretty good game plan going in defensively, and we put together four really good quarters,” head coach Jeff Houghtaling said this morning. “I think our defense kind of helped us generate some offense. We were able to turn them over a little bit, and that led to some fast-break baskets, which helped us.

“We knew going in they were probably going to press us, which they did, so we prepared for that. I don’t think we did fantastic against their press, but we certainly did good enough to get some fast-break baskets off of that, also. We played pretty gritty on the defensive end, hit some shots, and that was a good recipe for success.”

The Lady ‘Dogs went toe to toe with the Wildcats in the opening quarter, emerging just a basket down, 15-13. Artesia was able to use those fast-break opportunities Houghtaling mentioned to their advantage in the second, however, dropping 23 points on Clovis to take a 36-28 lead into the half.

The girls in orange were plagued by turnovers of their own in the second half but delivered enough offense to stay in front of the ‘Cats in the third, 55-45, and that margin helped preserve their win in a fourth quarter that saw Clovis outscore Artesia 16-13.

“We’re going to go back and look at the film this afternoon and see what we can learn from it,” said Houghtaling. “I don’t think by any means we played our best game. We still ended up with around 28 turnovers, which is more than we’ve been having, but the complexion of the game was one of a real fast pace. I think we can look at this film and say, ‘Hey, this was like a district game is going to be, and when that pace gets going, we have to be a little more composed and take care of the ball.’”

Houghtaling said the similarities between Clovis and two of Artesia’s District 4-AAAA opponents should help the Lady Bulldogs going forward.

“They’re pretty similar to Lovington in their quickness and their pressing, and they’re pretty similar to Portales in their offensive execution,” said the coach. “It’s a good snapshot of what I think we’re going to get to see in two weeks, so to be able to go in and handle that ball pressure and full-court press, sustain some defensive possessions and get some stops, was good to see.

“It was exciting to come out on top. Any time you can beat Clovis, it’s a good night. We’ve been playing them for a while and haven’t ever won up there at their place. They defend their home court well, so it was a big victory for us and a good confidence booster going into district.”

Just one more contest separates the Lady ‘Dogs (12-7) from the second season: a 7 p.m. bout Friday at Bulldog Pit against Class 5A Roswell High.

“That game will be a little different,” Houghtaling said. “Roswell High is a lot bigger, they have a lot more height, and we know they play zone, where Clovis was just full-court press, man-to-man, pressure, pressure, pressure. So I think there’ll be a little different complexion to this next game.

“But by this point in the season, we’ve seen just about everything one way or another, and I feel like we’ll have a decent game plan going in. We’re looking forward to another good challenge.”