Riding the hot hand of Marcus Arrington, the Carlsbad Cavemen went into the half with a lead and a mind to upset the Clovis Wildcats on their floor.
But the Cavemen missed 13 third-quarter shots, the Wildcats made 13 third-quarter shots, and control of District 4-5A flipped to host Clovis in a 73-59 victory Tuesday night at Rock Staubus Gymnasium despite a 33-point night from Arrington.
D.J. Blackmon matched his career high with 31 points for Clovis (16-6, 2-0), which can clinch the regular season district title and homecourt advantage for the March 2 championship game with a win Tuesday night at Carlsbad.
Blackmon, who passed Bryce Hill to become the school’s No. 4 career scorer, got most of his points in a workmanlike fashion, with a 3-point attempt the only shot he took outside of 10 feet.
“(I try to) attack the basket, get to the free-throw line,” said Blackmon, who has scored 1,345 points in four seasons with the Wildcats. “I didn’t shoot well from the line tonight, but I’m just trying to get there.”
Blackmon was more disappointed in his 1-of-6 performance from the line than he was happy about his 15-of-20 night from the floor or moving up in the Wildcat history books.
Clovis coach Matt King said Blackmon, averaging 28 points in his last three games, has a knack for getting to the rim or finding the ball on broken plays and offensive rebounds.
“He’s been going to the basket, he’s active inside the paint,” King said. “When he’s around the paint, he can really score.”
Going into halftime, though, it looked like Arrington’s scoring might be the key. His 23 first-half points included 17 of the Cavemen’s first 20 points, and during the final 8:15 of the first half he matched Clovis on the scoreboard 19-19 — including a 3-pointer at the left hashmark to beat the first-quarter buzzer.
That, Carlsbad coach Jamaal Brown said, led to an open-court game the Cavemen didn’t want against the Wildcats.
“Clovis got out in transition in the second half,” Brown said. “We didn’t make shots in the second half, and when you don’t make shots, teams get you in transition.”
That, King said, is the key if the Wildcats expect to compete in the district or the state tournament.
“I think transition’s an important part of what we need to be offensively,” King said. “I think we were a lot more aggressive in the second half than we were in the first half, and I was proud of the kids.”
The Wildcats face Lubbock Estacado on the road Friday night.