Cats and Clarendon collide in round two of Gruver Holiday Classic

After a convincing 61-44 victory over Texline at 9:30 this morning, the Clarendon Lady Broncos are rearing for their next challenge. Their reward for the opening victory is a 13-2 Lady Cat team ranked No. 1 in the state of Texas. But Clarendon has the tools to get the job done. Namely, a potent offense predicated on a tough inside game balanced with consistent shooting.

Leading the charge is No. 3 Briana Butler. The 5-foot-6 senior is powerfully built and uses it to her advantage as she bullied Tornados in the paint all morning, then surprised with an impressive jump shot.

“I would definitely say Briana is a spark plug,” said Clarendon Head Coach Korey Conkin. “When she’s playing well, our whole team has way more confidence. We also posted her up a little today. We hadn’t done that much. She is a big, strong girl that can handle the ball. When our post players aren’t stepping up to the challenge, she’s definitely willing to do that.”

But surrounding Butler are just as talented shooters including No. 11 senior Jensen Hatley, No. 33 senior Briley Chadwick, and No. 21 junior Shaelyn Owiti. Chadwick in particular is deceptive. Even at 5-foot-4, Chadwick has the power to bulldoze as a post, but also unleashed from outside the arc. Owiti also proved to be a deep threat.

“We had a decent practice yesterday,” said Conkin. “That helped us get ready. We usually do really well if we can get some quick steals and some easy baskets out of our press. Since we were able to do that. It helped us build momentum early on.”

Defensively, the 44 points given up to Texline were hardly admirable and the Tornados didn’t help their cause by missing a great many freebies. However, the Broncos pressed nearly the entire game and kept the competition on their toes and off balance from tip to buzzer.

“The last couple years, they ran 2-3 zone,” said Conkin, “and I was ready for some man-to-man defense. We changed it, the girls bought into it, and they’ve done well with it.”

The Lady Cats, however, are heralded on defense. Top-ranked Canadian uses the momentum created by aggressive coverage to convert easy baskets and create unsurmountable leads early in contests. Despite missing arguably their best player, Heaven Risley the past four games, the Lady Cats have continued this tend. A big test awaits in the Broncos though and Conkin acknowledges the Lady Cats are no slouches on offense either.

We’ll have to be on our best defensive game,” said Conkin. “We’ll have to make sure to get blockouts and not put them on the line. That’s something we struggle with is fouling and leaving people close where we give them enough momentum on the line that they are able to stay with us when we shouldn’t allow that to happen. They are definitely a good team. I know they’re assistant coach. I coached with him at Farwell. My first job was with him and I think a lot of Coach Boyd. I know we have our work cut out for us. We just hope to play a good game.”

“I don’t know if we can press [Canadian],” said Conkin. “We’re going to try it. They might be too quick. We’ll have to wait and see. We’ll adjust as we need to. Hopefully, our girls will step up to the challenge.”

Tip off is at 5 pm tonight. The Record is live in Gruver bringing you updates via Facebook and Twitter. Join the conversation using the hashtag #NowOrNever.

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