LEVELLAND, Texas — After a 75-67 loss at Levelland, Clovis coach Jaden Isler was quick to put the result in perspective.
“We played pretty well, but that is a tough team for us to play on the road,” Isler said. “They had 12 games already, they were more seasoned that we were, and we knew that going in. Realistically, that was the best we’ve played all year”
New Mexico teams start basketball later than Texas teams, and the Wildcats’ start was delayed due to an extended football season.
“It’s really not an excuse, it’s a fact,” Isler said. “We need some practice time.”
The Wildcats (2-2) were tied with Levelland 34-34 at the half, but the Lobos outscored Clovis 41-33 in the final two quarters.
“They shot a little better against our zone in the third quarter,” Isler said. “We switched it to man (defense) and we ended up putting them on the line a lot in the fourth.”
Levelland (7-6) was 11-of-18 from the free throw stripe in the game.
Isler said his team played well on offense, but the defense was lacking.
“We had five guys in double figures,” he said. “We just have to do a better job on their post players.”
Levelland’s Justin Turner led all scorers with 22 points, followed by Zach Morris with 20.
“We didn’t do a good job on Morris,” Isler said. “He had way too many easy buckets.”
Junior Cody Thornsbury led the Cats with 16 points, including four 3-balls. Junior Rishard Matthews added 15.
Isler said Matthews, who is new to organized basketball, is rapidly becoming a solid player.
“That was the most comfortable we’ve seen him play,” Isler said. “He’s gonna improve just like he did in football.”
Isler said eventually the Cats will start playing good basketball and winning consistently.
“I really, really like our team,” he said. “We just need some time.”