The Trinity Christian guard tandem of Luke Adams and Parker Wentz looked not only small but young as well when the Lions visited Clovis for a boys basketball game on Tuesday night.
Adams and Wentz, a sophomore and freshman both standing around 5-foot-4, are exactly what they appear to be. And they were also the perfect weapons to keep a Wildcats team from completing a late comeback as Trinity Christian (22-3) defeated Clovis 69-61 at Rock Staubus gymnasium.
The Lubbock private school moved out to a 53-44 lead early in the fourth quarter. Although the Cats bounced back to tie the game with just under three minutes to go, the ballhandling skills of the Lions guards helped stave off Clovis (10-7) in the end.
“They’ve got good guard play and they’re going to spread us out,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said. “They don’t give you enough possessions to get back into the game.”
With 3:23 left on the clock, Clovis senior Jaye Crockett drained a 3-point shot from the top of the key. Just under 30 seconds later, Crockett sank a pair of free throws — part of his game-high 35 points — as the Cats tied the game at 59-59.
At that point, Adams drove into the lane for a bucket against the Wildcats’ tight man-to-man defense. It was the end of a stretch where he scored eight straight points for his team.
An attempted alley-oop pass to Crockett went awry, giving the ball back to Trinity Christian. The sure-handed Lions pushed the score to 63-59 on a bucket by Andrew Beck with 2:05 remaining, then extended the advantage with free throws down the stretch as Clovis was forced to foul.
“We were just trying to spread it out, attack them and run the clock out,” said Adams, who has been deaf from birth but currently is able to hear with the help of a cochlear implant. “Fortunately, they started trapping and we were able to make some great plays.”
Adams scored 21 points, 17 in the second half, while Jonathan Wheeler added 13 and Wentz nine for Trinity. For Clovis, Dexter Correll scored 11 points to supplement Crockett.
The game ground to one of fits-and-starts late in the first half as foul trouble put both teams in the double bonus midway through the second quarter. As players constantly marched to the free throw line for foul shots, Trinity Christian went on a 10-4 run — all points for both squads coming from the charity stripe — to gain its first significant lead at 31-25.
Isler thought the effect on his team, which often generates offense from its full court press, was significant.
“We were kind of getting into rhythm with the press and were getting good looks inside early,” he said. “Then the game just kind of started shutting down. They started calling everything. It’s frustrating because we go to Albuquerque and they don’t call anything; we play here and they call everything.
“Our kids just have to adjust. What’s really hurting us now is we’re not getting any inside production besides Jaye.”