By Dave Wagner
CLOVIS — Despite the difference in records, Clovis High’s boys weren’t about to take Portales for granted.
Senior point guard Bud Willis scored 16 points and senior forward Justin Pinckney added 15 for the Wildcats, who rode a 13-0 first-half run to a 65-44 win over the Rams Tuesday at Rock Staubus Gym.
Playing tight man-to-man defense, Clovis held the Rams to just four field goals in building a 42-17 halftime cushion, more than enough to survive a sluggish finish.
The Cats (15-2) were coming off a one-point loss in double overtime on Friday night at Lubbock Coronado that snapped their second seven-game winning streak of the season.
“We were really sharp in the first half,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said. “I thought we had the right intensity on defense. I think we just really let up in the third quarter.”
Portales (5-9) came back to shoot 56 percent in the second half, and outscored Clovis 27-23. But the Rams could never get closer than 16 points.
“They just have too many athletes, and they’re very fundamental,” Rams coach Mark Gallegos said. “Coach Isler does a good job of getting them ready.”
Gallegos said the Rams tried to play at too fast a pace, and simply weren’t able to stay with Clovis.
“We have to be able to slow it down and run our game,” he said.
Clovis shot modest 42 percent overall, but hit 9-of-11 fielders in the second quarter — including 3-pointers by Willis and Pinckney — in building its commanding lead.
The Cats then struggled in the third quarter, scoring only two points in the first 4 1/2 minutes as Portales cut into the margin.
Junior guard Chris Kirchner led Portales with 12 points, while senior Austin Pullen and junior Chris Carter each scored 11.
Gallegos said that while the Class 3A Rams are often overmatched by the 5A Cats, his team benefits from playing them.
“It’s a measuring stick for us,” he said. “It shows us what we have to do against good teams. They’re going to expose your weaknesses.”