The Clovis Wildcats know they’re by no means in the driver’s seat in District 4-5A. But they are out of Ralph Tasker Arena with a win, and that’s a good Friday night by their standards.
“It’s one game,” Clovis coach Matt King said after the Wildcats escaped Hobbs with a 61-59 win. “We’re really happy we won it, but it’s one game. There’s no driver’s seat after one game. We feel like we’re in the car, and we feel like we have a big game Tuesday night. We hope we’re in the driver’s seat when it’s over.”
The Wildcats (15-6, 1-0) will host Carlsbad on Tuesday night, with the winner taking the lead halfway through the district race.
“I thought we were good defensively all night,” King said. “I thought we won because of our defense. Offensively, we were good in spurts. We won this game because we were tough and we defended. We defended through momentum and we defended through a hostile environment.”
D.J. Blackmon scored 20 points to lead all scorers, while junior guard Kamal Cass posted eight of his 12 points in the first quarter to help the Wildcats establish an early lead.
“When he can get out in transition and get some easy baskets,,” King said of Cass, “it’s really good for us.”
Clovis saw most of a 45-30 third-quarter evaporate against the hard-charging Eagles, but escaped when Dane Pannell’s 3-point attempt bounced out as time expired. The Eagles (17-6, 0-2) had the ball with 5.8 seconds left, and had to face a trapping Clovis defense en route to setting up Pannell’s last-second shot.
“We couldn’t allow them to roll the ball or anything like that; we had to defend them full court,” King said. “Pannell took a tough shot, and fortunately, he missed it.”
The Eagles, who lost Tuesday at Carlsbad 69-66, are left with little hope of hosting the district championship. Their only chance is to win out, hope the Wildcats and Cavemen split, and somehow be in position to win a three-way tiebreaker.