Cibola surges late

Cibola’s Roman Andrade get medical attention late in the second quarter after cutting his head after getting knocked to the floor. (CNJ staff: Eric Kluth)

By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

Clovis gave up its bodies. Cibola gave up its blood.

But in the end Clovis turned the ball over too many times and Cibola came away with a 53-46 District 4-5A win Tuesday at Rock Staubus Gym.

Trailing 35-30 with 7:38 left in the game, Clovis outscored Clovis 23-11 the rest of the way. Clovis finished with 22 turnovers, including six in the final quarter.

“Our kids Achilles’ heel was turnovers and especially late in the game,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said. “We didn’t get looks, we didn’t get shots up, we had turnovers.

Cibola junior forward Kasey Cunningham had game-highs with 21 points, 13 rebounds and six steals, including 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Clovis senior post Tigg Bunton scored 16 points, including 14 in the second half, and also pulled down seven rebounds.

The loss drops Clovis (19-4, 3-2) into third place in 4-5A behind Hobbs (15-7, 4-1) and Cibola (18-3, 3-2).

“We were fortunate,” Cibola coach Ray Rodriguez said. “I think our kids really gutted it out. They showed a toughness they hadn’t all year long. We’ve always beaten teams because we had better talent. We haven’t beaten somebody because we played a little tougher than they did. I think our kids had a will that would not be deterred.”

Nobody was tougher than Cibola guard Roman Andrade, who suffered a nasty gash over his eyebrow at the end of the first half, but returned to the game and scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half in a physical game that featured players scattered all over the floor going after loose balls.

In the teams’ first meeting, Cibola hit 11 3-pointers in a 73-55 win in Albuquerque.

The Cougars hit only one 3-pointer Tuesday, but it was a big one as Josh Torres gave Cibola a 39-35 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

“I thought Clovis really got on us,” Rodriguez said. “I think they kept us from doing a lot of things. I think they threw us off of the timing of our offense with their pressure.”

Isler said his team seemed to try too hard at times, which led to turnovers.

“I guess they were trying to make something happen and trying to force some passes,” Isler said.

Andrade was injured when he hit his head on the floor on a drive to the basket with 2:02 left and Clovis up 18-12.

Andrade laid on the floor for a moment. When he got to his feet, his face and his uniform was covered in blood and he was visibly angry.

He played the second half with bandages over his eye and a clean junior varsity jersey, occasionally stopping to wipe blood from his face.

Even though tempers flared at the end of the half, Bunton and Rodriguez said cooler heads prevailed and the teams focused on winning the game.

“When shaking hands at the end of the game, everybody looked into each other’s eyes and really respected each other,” Rodriguez said.