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Cleveland girls basketball back on track

December 19, 2018

Ready to launch: Storm senior Desiree Forster gets ready to try a 3-pointer.Gary Herron photo/Observer

ALBUQUERQUE ? A 10-0 run in the second period was nice, but only briefly gave the Cleveland High girls basketball team a lead against Onate.

So the Storm put together a nice 13-2 run early in the third period, boosting what had been a 26-24 lead to a comfortable 39-26 bulge heading into the fourth quarter and easily held on to beat the Knights, 55-35, Thursday in an opening-round game of the annual Joe Armijo Basketball Classic at Albuquerque Academy.

It got the Storm back on the winning track, after a 2-point outing in the third period of their game in Clovis on Dec. 7 led to their first loss, 41-35.

That impressive run Thursday to close out the third quarter put the Knights down by 13; they could get no closer than 14 after a layup by Alycia Harriott off a turnover made it 41-26.

Although the Knights (3-3) had put 12 on the scoreboard in the first period, they managed only single digits the next three periods ? 6, 8 and 9, respectively.

“That’s our goal, 35 or under,” coach Susan Kubala said. “Our goal defensively to make other teams not get comfortable in what they do, get them out of their rhythm.”

The only time an opponent has managed more than 35 was at The Rock, so, yes, the Storm played exceptional defense, and it sure didn’t hurt to get 14 points from veteran Desiree Forster and a dozen ? all in the fourth quarter ? from Harriott, also a senior. Nine of the Storm’s 11 players who saw action scored, which always makes a coach happy, seeing the younger players get court time.

″(Harriott) needed that, because she honestly has had some tough games, struggled a little bit to get her rhythm,” Kubala said. “She’s a very streaky shooter ? when she’s on, she’s on.”

“I think we started out slow ? we’ve done that a couple times in practice ? and that’s not a good thing to do,” Kubala said. “We’ve got to change things up so we don’t start slow. We were able to dig ourselves out, we made some adjustments defensively.

“I wasn’t pleased with the start and I wasn’t pleased with the finish,” she said. “Overall, we won and it was a great team effort.”

The only category in which the Knights beat the Storm came at the foul line; each team made 13 free throws, but Cleveland had 23 attempts, the Knights only 16.

Cleveland 50, Manzano 35: Once again limiting an opponent to Kubala’s preferred 35 or fewer ? and just seven in the entire first half ? the Storm were about to face one of Class 5A’s top teams, the 6-0 Farmington Scorpions, on Saturday evening in a game aired statewide on television.

Forster led the Storm with 17 points.

Storm warnings: The Storm’s next game is Friday at 5 when Centennial visits; the Storm beat the Hawks 56-31 in the Storm Center. On Saturday, the boys and girls teams play at Mayfield. The meetings with the Trojans will be both teams’ final games of 2018.

... In their nine previous seasons, the Storm girls, now 6-1, have never been better than 5-2 after seven games.

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