Cats host Carlsbad in district tourney

CNJ staff

Clovis High’s boys are anxious for another crack at rival Hobbs in Friday’s finals of the District 4-5A tourney at Hobbs.

Before they can do that, though, the Wildcats have to take care of business when they host Carlsbad in a 7 p.m. contest today at Rock Staubus Gym.

The Cats (21-4) have lost only to Hobbs and Rio Rancho this season — twice each — but all of those contests have been competitive.

On the other hand, they haven’t had much trouble with the Cavemen (10-15), beating them by an average of 36 points in two regular-season meetings.

“They’re a team that gives you some concern,” CHS coach J.D. Isler said. “The big (senior post Jose Cruz) Lopez kid gives you some concern inside.”

Isler said senior Michael Lewis and junior Layne Strebeck have done a good job of occupying Lopez in the earlier meetings. The Cavemen also rely on point guard Zach Mendez for scoring from the perimeter.

“We don’t know how they’ll come into the game,” Isler said. “They may try to hold the ball, or they could pound it inside.”

Isler said the Cats will, as usual, try to get an up-and-down pace going against the bigger Cavemen and said it’s important to come out of the blocks quickly.

“We want to get off to a good start,” he said. “We realize that’s real important. That’s something we haven’t done (in either game) against Hobbs.”

The Cats have six games left to try to win a Class 5A state title — something which, quite likely, would go through both Hobbs and Rio Rancho.

Even if they don’t win the district tourney, the Cats stand a good chance of earning a first-round home game next week in the 16-team state tournament bracket. Only three other teams — Hobbs, Rio Rancho and Manzano — have won at least 20 games in 5A, Isler noted.

The first order of business, he said, is not to overlook the Cavemen.

“We have to take them one at a time,” he said. “I think the kids are real focused.”