Games like the one Clovis played Friday night will help the Wildcats’ seeding for the state basketball tournament. And games like the one Clovis played Saturday will help them when when they get there.
One night after knocking off second-ranked Eldorado, the Wildcats pushed their winning streak to eight with a 74-60 win over Sandia that was much closer than the final score indicated.
Combined with the 88-80 win over the Eagles, Clovis (14-1) has won six games in the last 12 days.
“The back-to-back games are a lot harder on us because of our style of play,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said. “We talked after the game about how you’ve got to be able to do that. Obviously, we’re going to do that next week. And at state, you’ve got to go back-to-back at The Pit.”
Clovis, which got 21 points from Lathan Lieb and 20 from D.J. Blackmon, is off until a weekend trip to Bernalillo County, Friday at Highland and Saturday at Rio Rancho Cleveland.
“We’re going to have to get physically and emotionally ready for next week,” said senior guard Trevor Jones, who helped ice the win with a pair of free throws in the final 30 seconds.
The Wildcats came out a little flat against the Matadors (7-6), who also played Friday night but were visibly less worn down after an uncompetitive 78-36 loss to defending Class 3A champion Hope Christian.
But Clovis never trailed by more than two due to a harrassing defense, and staked out a 14-point lead at the half before Sandia chipped away in the second half.
“In the first half, we made them take a lot of quick shots,” Isler said. “When we press, it’s not all about steals. It’s about tempo and them taking shots they don’t want to take.”
The turnovers help too, to the tune of 25 for the Matadors. Sandia cut the lead to three late in the fourth period, but couldn’t mount a final charge with three turnovers in the final 1:30.
“I can see how they just beat the No. 2 team in the state,” said Sandia assistant coach Al Sanchez, who was filling in for an ill Alvin Broussard. “They’ve got size, the’ve got shooters and they’re well-coached.”
Guard Isaiah Rogers scored a game-high 25 for Sandia, which travels to Volcano Vista Thursday.
Other double-figure scorers included Craig Cook with 16 for Clovis and Nic Sheridan with 14 for the Matadors.