The Clovis boys basketball team made it very difficult for observers to evaluate the halfcourt offense of Cibola on Saturday night. Rarely did the Wildcats even allow the Cougars to get into it in the first half as Clovis (8-4) rolled to a 65-32 victory at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.
Cibola (6-5) turned the ball over 21 times in the first two quarters against the fullcourt press of the Cats. With 2:23 left before intermission, Clovis held a commanding 40-13 advantage.
During the holiday break from school, Clovis hosted its own tournament and played three times while it had been 13 days since the Cougars had been in action. Also, Cibola had lost starting point guard Andrew Apodaca to a torn ACL since a 77-62 loss to Clovis at the Albuquerque Academy tournament on Dec. 11.
Cibola coach Ray Rodriguez, however, didn’t point to either as legitimate reasons for his team’s inability to solve the Wildcats' press.
“It (the layoff) could account for some rust, but not that debacle,” Rodriguez said. “That was a debacle; we completely fell apart.
“I have no idea what we were looking for on either side of the floor. Forget about game plans or anything, we were shook.”
Clovis scored the first eight points in the contest — including offensive rebounds and field goals by Jaye Crockett and Tanner Adams.
Crockett scored 24 points to lead the Wildcats while guards Bryan Pierson and Dexter Correll each got into double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
After the game, Clovis coach J.D. Isler said that he altered his lineup in an effort to get the 6-foot-6 Crockett closer to the basket in the Wildcats’ own offensive schemes.
“We had been starting him as a three (small forward) on the perimeter and we decided to put him back as a four (power forward), bring Logan Turnbow and Bryan Pierson off the bench,” Isler said. “I think that gives us a little more stability. We can move Jaye around, we can move him to the perimeter, but we’re trying to find that good starting lineup with energy coming off the bench.”
In an 8-2 run which pushed Clovis’ first-quarter lead to 12 points, Pierson stole one Cibola pass and went in for a layup and, pushing tempo later, scored another basket and an additional free throw after being fouled for a 16-4 advantage.
The Cats will next travel to Gallup for a tournament next weekend, beginning with a contest against Farmington on Thursday.
After the game, both coaches were at a loss how Clovis, which struggled before beating Los Lunas in the third-place game of its own tournament, could so easily beat a Cibola team which also defeated Los Lunas — even with the same shorthanded lineup it had on Saturday.
“That’s what we told the kids, that these guys just went into overtime with Los Lunas and we beat them 13 days ago,” Rodriguez said. “(Clovis) is not any bigger than we are, they’re not any quicker than we are. There’s something about the press, with our inexperience, our kids flip out.”
Isler said timing has a lot to do with it.
"It's just a strange year,” he said. “It just seems that if you don’t show up every night, you’ve got a real good chance to get beat.
“Everybody’s beating everybody. I just think there’s a lot of parity in the state.”