Rattled Cats regroup at halftime

CNJ staff

CANYON — Clovis passed its first real test of the season, surviving a second-quarter meltdown to beat El Paso Parkland 75-63 on Thursday in the first round of the Gene Messer Tournament of Champions.

The unbeaten Wildcats blew all of what was a 20-point, second-quarter lead before regrouping at halftime to beat the Matadors in a fast-paced game at the West Texas A&M University Fieldhouse.

Justin Pinckney hit a pair of big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and finished with 28 points for the Wildcats, while Bud Willis finished with 19.

“I really didn’t want to take a timeout,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said about Parkland outscoring suddenly turnover-prone Clovis 19-2 over the final four-plus minutes of the second quarter. “People are going to make runs on us this season and we need to learn how to handle them.”

Isler said Parkland switched to a zone after a high-scoring first quarter (Clovis led 29-17) and it took a while for Clovis to adjust.

“I figured we’d regroup at halftime and we’d be OK,” Isler said. “And then Justin kind of got going for us on the perimeter.”

Post Tony Galbreath led Parkland (5-2) with 22 points and guard Dewayne Hall added 15 points, including three 3-pointers.

A basket by Galbreath and a 3-pointer by Andy Husley put Parkland up 41-39 two minutes into the second half before Pinckney and Willis took over.

When he wasn’t scoring, Willis, a 6-foot, 2-inch point guard, was dishing off to the likes of Pinckney, Dominique Easterlin (12 points) and Mario Caswell (seven points).
Back-to-back 3-pointers from the corner by Pinckney gave Clovis a 67-55 lead with four minutes to go.

Clovis was at full-strength for the first time this season, which allowed Isler to substitute freely during a contest which featured end-to-end action and few fouls.

“Our subs made a difference,” Isler said. “They weren’t necessarily smooth, but they definitely helped us.”

Caswell was among the five players who joined the basketball team this week after the football season ended.

Gene Messer
Tournament of Champions
Times MST
Thursday’s quarterfinals
At West Texas A&M Fieldhouse

Amarillo High 65, Pampa 25
Canyon 88, Hobbs 75
Abilene Cooper 51, Canyon Randall 44.
Clovis 75, El Paso Parkland 63

Today’s semifinals
At West Texas A&M Event Center

Pampa vs. Hobbs, 1 p.m.,
Randall vs. Parkland, 3 p.m.
Amarillo High vs. Canyon, 5 p.m.
Cooper vs. Clovis, 7 p.m.