By Eric Butler
They tried various forms of distraction — physical and verbal — when their younger counterparts came to the free throw line.
They tried to literally throw their weight around on their thinner opponents.
They even put six men out on the court for two exchanges in the fourth quarter.
But alas, the older set of Wildcats couldn’t match the group of players from the 2001-03 graduating classes in the second annual Clovis High alumni basketball game Thursday night at Rock Staubus Gym, going down to a 95-85 defeat.
But the score didn’t matter all that much in the end.
“We had fun, we got the alumni to come out. It was great to see the young guys and old guys and the camaraderie,” said organizer Maurice Monson, who estimated that around $2,000 was raised for the Wildcats Basketball Booster Club. “What the town is doing is saying, ‘We support the Wildcats and we’re going to give them a chance to go to camps to get better.’”
The younger Cats had the services of Abilene Christian’s A.J. Porterfield, Eastern New Mexico University’s Irshaun Pinckney and Hank Baskett, who plays football for the University of New Mexico.
“Too much fun. This is great — anything for this program,” said Porterfield, who planned to return to Abilene today. “I told them I had to go back home — go back to Clovis. It brought back a lot of memories.”
Pinckney scored 23 points to lead his team, while Porterfield added 14. Stephen Monson also registered 12 points, and Baskett contributed 11.
The older set of Wildcats trailed 29-8 after one quarter and 53-34 at halftime — when 3-point shooting slam dunk contests were held.
In the dunk competition, Baskett took first with a windmill slam while Clay Whitehead (Class of 2000) and Porterfield finished second and third, respectively. Chris Wetzel (2000) won the 3-point contest, ahead of David Lansford (1977) and Tony Aburto (1996).
When the second half started, the older alumni began a comeback behind the play of Wetzel, Coby Greenwalt (1996) and Mike Lingnau (1992).
The large deficit was cut to 63-60 when Wetzel, who finished with 15, hit a shot with a minute left in the third period.
Greenwalt led the older Cats with 17, while Aburto tossed in 13.
“We had it down to three. We had a little motivation swing,” Lingnau said. “I’ve been playing this winter in a church league, but not a whole lot. Not as much as these younger guys who play every day. But it was fun to come back to relive the old memories.”
The comeback was stymied when Tory Roberts hit a pair of free throws at the end of the third period and — with the reinsertion of Baskett, Pinckney and Porterfield in the lineup — a 20-3 run early in the fourth period.
After the game, players and spectators alike joined together for a round of post-game pizza.
“The knees suck. I need new knees,” said Matt Ratledge (1983), who scored seven points. “If anybody has a 21-year-old or 22-year-old pair I could use for a spare, just bring it by.”