Cats annilhate Aztec

By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers

When your turnovers outnumber your points for the game, you know you’ve had a long night.

Overwhelmed from the start by Clovis High’s fullcourt pressure and man-to-man defense, Aztec had little it could do to stem the tide Friday night in a 63-25 loss to the unbeaten Wildcats at Rock Staubus Gym.

The Tigers committed 26 turnovers — and all but three of them came in a first half that ended with Clovis leading 44-8. With the score 7-2, Clovis (5-0) went on a 24-0 run. Aztec had only one field goal in the game until senior forward Chase May drained a long 3-pointer from the left wing with four seconds to go in the half.

With the margin at 35 points or more, the second half was played with a running clock.

“Obviously, our fullcourt pressure bothered their ballhandlers early, and they got to running with us,” Cats coach J.D. Isler noted.

Junior guard Bryce Hill scored 16 points and senior guard Cody Thornsbury added 14 for Clovis, which hits the road for a 7 p.m. game today at Roswell Goddard. May led the Tigers (4-5) with six points.

Aztec coach Brian Shock, whose team plays at Portales today, said he figured his team would more than have its hands full staying in the game.

“We’re very inexperienced at the guard position,” he said. “We only have four guys with varsity experience.

“Clovis is probably one of the most athletic teams in the state, and Coach Isler is probably one of the best coaches in the state.”

Despite the lopsided margin, the Cats strived to maintain a relatively high level of play in the second half.

“We didn’t know what they had,” junior forward Layne Strebeck said of the Tigers. “We rebounded pretty well this game and did the things we need to do.”

Strebeck said the Cats should get a much tougher test tonight against Goddard, a team they defeated 60-41 earlier this month in a tournament at Artesia.

“Goddard’s going to be a tough team,” he said. “We beat them pretty good at Artesia, but they’re a really good team.”

Isler also thinks the Cats will have to be ready tonight, even though the Rockets have never been able to beat Clovis in his six years as coach.

“It’ll be a battle at Goddard,” he said. “They’re playing with some confidence, and I’m sure they’ll be up for us.”

Junior guard Jaden Isler added nine points, five rebounds and six assists for Clovis, while senior post Michael Lewis chipped in seven points and a team-high seven rebounds.