Cats run away from Onate

By Kevin Wilson

CNJ STAFF WRITER

kwilson@cnjonline.com

In the first quarter, Onate had nine turnovers. In the second quarter, the visiting Knights didn’t turn the ball over for the first seven minutes but went 0-of-12 from the field.

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Marquese Gaither scoops a shot in the second half as Onate’s Josh Gandara holds his position in the second half of their game Saturday night at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson
Marquese Gaither scoops a shot in the second half as Onate’s Josh Gandara holds his position in the second half of their game Saturday night at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, the Knights had no luck at all, as the Clovis Wildcats rode a stingy defensive effort to a 67-38 victory on Saturday at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.

Willie McCray scored 14 to lead a balanced effort for Clovis (9-5). The Cats, who led by 30 at the half and by 33 in trhe final minutes, had all 10 players who logged minutes score at least one basket.

A few days, and two games removed from blowing a 20-point halftime lead on their home court against Canyon before nailing down the win in overtime, the Wildcats would have no such repeat.

“We’re just trying to improve as a team,” said Traivon Sopila, who scored nine points on 3-of-5 shooting to go with four rebounds. “In big games, we need to execute and be on our ‘A’ game. Friday and Saturday, we’ve got Cleveland and Valley, and you can’t forget Tuesday against Goddard, either.

“We’re just trying to focus on execution and taking care of the ball, so we keep those 20-point leads.”

Execution, Clovis coach Matt King said, was the focus, and the rough season Onate (4-12) has been having wasn’t a factor.

“You’ve got to play the right way and focus on things you need to work on,” King said. “We don’t go into any game thinking we’re a lot better than a team. We have a lot of respect for coach (Saul) Perez and their program. We came out prepared, we came out like we would against anybody else.”

The Wildcats never looked back after scoring the game’s first nine points and 15 of the first 17.

In all, the Wildcats had eight different players score in the first half, while Onate had eight — as in eight total points, all courtesy of guard Isaiah Polanco.

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Clovis forward Traivon Sopila goes up for a basket and draws the foul from Onate’s Daniel Martinez in the second half Saturday night at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. Sopila had nine points in the Wildcats’ 67-38 win.

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson
Clovis forward Traivon Sopila goes up for a basket and draws the foul from Onate’s Daniel Martinez in the second half Saturday night at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. Sopila had nine points in the Wildcats’ 67-38 win.

“We need to have two or three more consistent scorers develop if we want to compete in our district,” Perez said of the Knights, who travel to Albuquerque next weekend to face Atrisco Heritage Friday and Manzano Saturday. “Their defensive pressure, we didn’t handle well at all. I think Clovis did a good job in their full-court defensive pressure. We had a hard time scoring.”

King said he was happy to see the Wildcats still getting better, despite some lulls in the second half.

“Defensively, there were bigger gaps that we needed,” King said. “Offensively, we’re improving. We have some liabilities, but we’re improving and that’s good to see.”

Polanco finished with 15 points to lead all scorers, including a four-point play to start the third quarter.

Kamal Cass had 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, while Henderson added nine.

The Wildcats only rotated 10 because their normal bench options were at Roswell High for a junior varsity game, won by Clovis 86-81 in two overtimes.

 

Clovis 67, Onate 38

Onate (4-12) — Isaiah Polanco 5-14 3-3 15, Isaiah Slaughter 3-11 2-2 8, Ed Ramirez 3-9 0-1 6, Kal McCorkle 2-2 0-0 4, Ruben Ortega 1-2 1-2 3, Josh Gandara 0-2 2-2 2, Matt Sierra 0-1 0-0 0, Adrian Ogas 0-1 0-0 0, Johnny McCants 0-3 0-0 0, Jacob Gandara 0-4 0-0 0, Kevin Espinoza 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 14-45 8-10 38.

Clovis (9-5) — Willie McCray 5-10 4-5 14, Kamal Cass 4-7 2-4 10, Traivon Sopila 3-5 3-4 9, Justin Henderson 3-6 2-2 9, Brandon Brewer 3-4 0-0 7, Roland Chavez 3-4 1-2 7, Kaine Bender 1-3 1-2 3, D.D. Egbert 1-2 1-2 3, Tomas Acune 1-2 1-2 3, Marquese Gaither 1-4 0-0 2, Totals 25-47 15-23 67.

 

Onate 6 2 18 12 — 38

Clovis 19 19 16 13 — 67

 

3-pointers — Onate 2-17 (Polanco 2-8, Slaughter 0-1, McCants 0-2, Ramirez 0-2, Ja. Gandara 0-4), Clovis 2-6 (Brewer 1-1, Henderson 1-3, McCray 0-1, Egbert 0-1). Rebounds — Onate 17 (Slaughter 5), Clovis 36 (McCray 6). Turnovers — Onate 23, Clovis 20. Total fouls — Onate 20, Clovis 14. Fouled out — Espinoza.