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Clovis scores upset

Wildcats lead wire-to-wire in win over second-ranked Volcano Vista.

 

January 22, 2020

Kevin Wilson

Clovis guard Josiah Lombrana drives the baseline against Volcano Vista defender Oscar McCoy in Saturday's game at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. Lombrana had eight points in the 58-48 victory over the Hawks.

CLOVIS — Volcano Vista is the kind of boys basketball team Clovis will have to beat in the state tournament if the Wildcats want to get far.

So, Saturday night’s 58-48 victory over Volcano at Rock Staubus Gymnasium – a game Clovis led from start to finish – seemed like a pretty big one, seemed like it boded well for Clovis’ state-playoff aspirations.

Maybe it did. But, in head coach Jaden Isler’s mind, every regular-season victory is important, every one bodes well for his Wildcats’ chances for success.

“We’re excited every time we can get a win,” Isler said. “We talk about how big each game is when it comes down to the seedings late in the year, because in the seeding criteria your overall record is part of the criteria, so you’ve got to be able to have a record that is better than the majority of the state so you can try to jump into the top eight and get a home game. So every win is big for us, but to beat No. 2 in the state and to beat them after they got us once (in the Joe Armijo Classic last month) … it could be a big win in a lot of ways, especially if Volcano does win its district. Excited that our kids played well, excited that we executed what we were trying to execute and found a way to win the game.”

“This was a very huge win,” senior guard Dewayne Dawson said after his 11 points made him the only Wildcat to reach double-digit scoring. “They’re No. 2, so that’s going to put us higher in the top 10 or the top five. So it’s a very good win.”

It was Clovis’ 13th win in 18 tries this season, while Volcano endured only its second loss in 16 games.

“Clovis was as we expected,” Hawks head coach Greg Brown said, “super physical, very well-coached. And we knew that we had a great challenge coming in here to play a really good team. I wish we could’ve played better, but give Clovis a lot of the credit.”

The Wildcats came out with a whoosh, building an 8-0 advantage less than halfway into the first quarter on an inside basket from Bryce Cabeldue, a Dawson layup, a Mason Figueroa foul shot and a left-side trey from Josiah Lombrana.

Following a Terrin Dickey field goal and a pair of Dion Battle free throws, Lombrana canned a three from the right corner to give Clovis an 11-4 lead.

But, Volcano whittled it to 15-11 before the first quarter ended and was still down just 17-11 by quarter’s end after Clovis’ Ro Morgan scrapped for a loose ball on the floor, then put it up and in during the waning seconds.

Volcano, though, kept steadily at it, narrowing the difference to 19-16 in the second quarter and 22-20 early in the third. An inside hoop from Cabeldue off a slick feed from Lombrana, followed by a left-elbow trey from Dawson and a Morgan bucket, stretched the Wildcats’ lead to 29-20.

Dickey then scored five straight points on a trey and a fast-break basket, and Battle added a two-point field goal, slicing Clovis’ lead to just 29-27. From there, however, the Wildcats finally got some better separation, outscoring Volcano 9-2 for the remainder of the third quarter. Dawson, Ethan Gershon, Blake Muscato and Figueroa scored two points each during the run, with a Malik Phillips free throw supplying the other point, and the Wildcats led 38-29 by quarter’s end.

Early in the fourth quarter, an inside turnaround one-hander by Morgan gave the ’Cats their first double-digit lead of the night, 40-29, but the Hawks had another run in them, 11-4 this time, and closed to within 44-40 near the quarter’s midway point.

But Clovis was resilient yet again and scored five straight – on a Malik Phillips teardrop and free throw, sandwiched around a Figueroa putback – and went up 49-40 with 2:55 remaining in the fourth.

From then on, Volcano was never closer than five and Clovis led by as many as 12.

When it was over, the Wildcats had toppled one of the state’s best, and never trailed once against a team that kept coming at them.

“We were able to maintain the lead because of our intensity on defense,” Dawson said. “We just kept playing. … We just focused on us and started playing harder defense, more intense defense.”

“Teams like us and Volcano – there are seven or eight teams that are really, really similar across the state that can all win on any given night,” Isler said. “And we knew this was going to be kind of a heavyweight-type match, that we were going to throw punches and they were going to throw punches. We just talked to our kids about trying to stay even-keeled, play through the good and the bad. We went through a long stretch in the second quarter where we just didn’t score, but we defended hard enough during that stretch to make sure they didn’t overtake our lead. So we did great things all night – defensively, effort-wise, offensively – and we fought through the good and the bad.”

 
 

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