Clovis’ Michael Lewis blocks out Alamogordo’s Will Bynum during a 1-and-1 free throw situation in Tuesday’s game at Alamogordo. (Alamogordo Daily News: Ellis Neel)
By Gidal Kaiser: Alamogordo Daily News
ALAMOGORDO — Clovis just wasn’t able to match Alamogordo’s final run.
The host Tigers used a quick 6-0 run as the catalyst for a game-ending 18-9 run and beat the Wildcats 61-51 Tuesday night in a non-district contest.
After trading runs all night with the Alamogordo, the Wildcats seemed set to do it once again in the middle of the fourth quarter.
Down 40-34, Clovis’ Jaden Isler sank one of two free throws off an Alamogordo technical foul, and Clovis was awarded the ball back. Rishard Matthews’ jumper cut the deficit to three points, and Devin Sweet’s putback made it 40-39.
On their next possession, Cody Thornsbury’s 3-pointer kept the Wildcats down one (43-42), but it was the last basket Clovis would make for at least five minutes.
During the game-ending drought, the Wildcats (4-3) missed six shots and had four turnovers. They shot 37 percent overall (19-of-52) and committed 21 turnovers.
“We didn’t handle their pressure real good at the end,” Clovis assistant coach Mike Hankins said. “Alamogordo’s defensive pressure — they got their hands on a lot of balls and it’s hard to defend the break all the time.
“In a half-court game, we defended OK throughout, but (our) turnovers turned into fastbreak points and fouls … we just didn’t handle the pressure real well.”
The Wildcats got two free throws from Isler to cut the deficit to 49-44, but didn’t score until Sweet’s field goal made it 53-46. Bryce Hill’s 3-pointer made it 58-49 to keep the game relatively close and Matthews hit a bucket with four seconds left to end the game.
Will Bynum scored 17 points and Walter Gardner added 10 for Alamogordo (9-3).
“I thought we did a good job on defense, especially in the second half,” Tigers coach Mike Day said. “They scored about the same amount of points, but it felt like a lot of their shots didn’t fall because we had good pressure on them.”
The game was marred by 40 turnovers overall — 21 for Clovis, 19 for Alamogordo.
“It’s going to be like that when you go up-tempo with any team,” Hankins said. “Both teams are running the ball hard and pushing to score, and sometimes it shows up as turnovers. Forty turnovers (between two teams) is too much, pressure or no pressure.”
It was a bitter end to a game that started so strong for Clovis.
The Wildcats began the game on a 10-2 run and held an 11-4 lead before Alamogordo came back to cut it to 11-10, then tie it at 13 on Gardner’s 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Down 17-16, Clovis went on a 6-0 run but saw the score tied at 22 with two minutes to play. Thornsbury’s 3-pointer with 10 seconds to play gave the Wildcats a 25-23 halftime lead.
The teams traded baskets until Alamogordo was up 35-34 and went on a 5-0 run to close the third quarter.
Hill, Matthews and Thornsbury each scored 10 for Clovis.
“In the second half, we really picked up the pace and played Tiger basketball,” Day said. “We played with a lot of intensity, attacked the basket and ran the floor real well.”