The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Quick start lifts Cats past Portales


Clovis’ Justin Pinckney has the ball knocked from his hands as he grabs a rebound during the first half of Tuesday’s game at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. Photo by Eric Kluth

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.

Isler, now two wins away from 300 in his high school coaching career, said his guards generally shot the ball well, but he was disappointed the Cats couldn’t sustain their level of play after halftime.

“We need to come out and put teams away, and not let them think they have a chance to win,” he said. “You can’t really look at the score, whether you’re behind or ahead. I don’t ever let (his players) use that as an excuse.”

Willis looked for his shot more than normal, finishing two points shy of a season high. He went 6-for-12 from the field, including 2-of-3 on 3-pointers.

“He’s been having problems passing because everybody was playing that so much,” Isler said. “We want Bud to be able to keep teams honest.”

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.”

Clovis 65, Portales 44

Portales (5-9) — Nathan Brown 0 0-0 0, Seth Clabaugh 0 2-2 2, Daniel Aranda 0 1-2 1, Russell Knudson 1 3-5 5, Austin Pullen 4 1-2 11, Chris Kirchner 4 2-2 12, Bo Gabriel 1 0-0 2, Tevor Ferguson 0 0-0 0, Chris Adkins 0 0-0 0, Jonathan Garcia 0 0-0 0, Chris Carter 4 2-2 11, Jack Hale 0 0-0 0, Daniel Boan 0 0-0 0. Totals 14-33 11-15 44.

Clovis (15-2) — Bud Willis 6-12 2-4 16, Tizrick Phillips 2-4 0-0 5, Zac Watters 1-4 1-2 3, Jacob Jones 1-4 0-0 3, Elliott Hita 0-2 3-4 3, John Props 2-8 3-4 9, Justin Pinckney 6-10 2-2 15, Devin Sweet 1-1 0-0 2, Dominique Easterlin 2-6 0-0 4, Mario Caswell 2-4 1-2 5, Jeff Epps 0-0 0-0 0, Jermaine Davis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-55 12-18 65.

Portales 8 9 16 11 — 44

Clovis 15 27 8 15 — 65

3-pointers — Portales 5-12 (Kirchner 2, Pullen 2, Carter), Clovis 7-16 (Willis 2-3, Props 2-5, Jones 1-1, Pinckney 1-2, Phillips 1-3, Easterlin 0-1, Watters 0-1). Rebounds — Portales 24, Clovis 27 (Easterlin 7). Assists — Portales n/a, Clovis 9 (Willis 3). Total fouls — Portales 15, Clovis 15. Fouled out — Gabriel, Easterlin. Technicals — Aranda.


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