Keene goes long way for tournament

By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

In mid-October, Clovis sent a schedule out to St. Michael’s in Santa Fe to confirm its attendance at the Milk Cow Classic, which runs today through Wednesday.

However, St. Michael’s found another tourney, leaving Clovis scrambling.

Clovis got a call from Keene High School, a Class 2A school south of Fort Worth, Texas. Keene coach Jason Hill had seen the tournament opening on the Internet.
“I just called at the right time,” Hill said.

This is the first out-of-state trip for Keene, which usually plays within a two-hour perimeter of town. The trip to Clovis is 468 miles one-way.

“The kids are really excited about it, really looking forward to it,” Hill said.

Thanks to tourney sponsorship by the Southwest Dairy Association, Keene will only spend about $300 on the trip.

“Without their generosity, we couldn’t have near a high quality tournament as we have,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said.

Keene (8-6) is the smallest school in the tournament.

“My aspirations are just to come up and be competitive,” Hill said. “If we compete, great, if we don’t, than it’s a good learning experience.

“I know they’re big schools, but we’ve played big schools before.”

Also in the tourney are Lovington, Valley, Rio Rancho, Pampa, Tascosa and Abilene Cooper.

Rio Rancho (5-4) and Abilene Cooper (6-9) have been annual participants in the Classic. Isler said Valley (7-1) “is always one of the better Albuquerque schools” and Lovington (6-1) was the Class 3A state runner-up last year.

“They’re always athletic,” Isler said of sharp-shooting Lovington. “They’re successful in football, which always transfers to basketball.”

The Wildcats beat Pampa and Tascosa this season at home, and both are on the Cats’ side of the bracket.
Clovis was missing its varsity roster to football in the first meetings with the Texas schools.

“It’ll probably be two different teams that play that game,” Isler said.

Clovis plays Tascosa today at 8 p.m.