Clovis wins 'ugly'
CANYON – Whether it was Tizrick Phillips or John Props off the bench or leading scorer Justin Pinckney getting untracked in the third quarter, Clovis put together enough offensive spurts to hold off pesky Abilene Cooper 58-50 on Friday in a semifinal contest of The Gene Messer Tournament of Champions.
Clovis stretched its season-opening winning streak to four games despite playing what just about everybody associated with the Wildcats called an ugly game.
Clovis plays defending champion Amarillo High Saturday in the title game of the eight-team tournament at West Texas A&M University.
“It seemed liked we were in a funk,” said Pinckney, who finished with a 14 points, nine below his season average. ”We didn’t do the things we usually do – like box out and play good defense.”
Clovis coach J.D. Isler said the Wildcats appeared lethargic coming off Thursday’s exciting 75-63 win over El Paso Parkland.
“That’s probably our poorest effort of the season on defense and rebounding,” Isler said. “We got away from doing all the little things that helped us be successful.”
Dominique Easterlin added 13 points for the Wildcats, who were averaging 71 points an outing.
Cooper kept the game close with its deliberate motion offense and solid interior defense, which kept Pinckney and Easterlin in check most of the night.
Phillips and Props helped pick up the slack.
Props sparked a 9-2 run at the end of the second quarter with a jumper and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions, giving the Wildcats a 28-19 lead and the momentum heading into halftime.
It didn’t last long as Cooper crept to within a point three times, including 34-33 on Warren Daniel’s putback with three minutes left in the third quarter. In stepped Phillips, who restored order for the Wildcats by calmly draining a pair of 3-pointers as Clovis closed the quarter with a 9-1 run.
Cooper never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Billy Linley scored 13 points off the bench for Cooper, including six in the second quarter to keep the Class 5A Cougars within striking range, and crafty point guard Paul Peterson added 12.