By Dave Wagner
The Staff of The News 

Sandia's quick start too much for Cats


Last updated 12/24/2022 at 1:01pm

CLOVIS – No question, Clovis High’s boys are much-improved over what they’ve been in recent seasons.

That said, the Wildcats were shown on Wednesday night just how far they still have to go to compete with the best in the state.

Sandia, ranked third in Class 5A, exploded to a 23-3 advantage early in the second quarter and cruised to a 75-57 victory over the Wildcats in the championship semifinals of the K. Barnett & Sons holiday tournament at Rock Staubus Gym.

First-year CHS coach Josh Mattox was quick to point out that while the Cats have talent, they still have much work to do to reach the top echelon in 5A.

“We’re still dealing with culture issues right now,” he said. “When you have that, it’s hard to coach the basketball end of it.”

Much to their credit, Clovis (5-4) hung with the Matadors (8-1) and didn’t allow them to just run away and hide. Still, the Cats were never able to get the margin under 11 points the rest of the way.

Matadors coach Danny Brown, whose team faced top-ranked Volcano Vista (10-0) for the second time this season in Thursday’s title clash, said he thought it took the Cats a while to adjust to the speed of the game.

“Clovis battled us,” he said. “They could have folded, but I think they got used to the pace. It was a good win for us, especially here.”

Four players scored in double figures for Sandia, led by senior guard Lamarion Coleman with 20 points. Senior guard Andrew Hill added 14, sophomore guard Thomas Adams 12 and senior guard Dalen Moyer 10.

Sandia led just 5-2 after a basket by 6-foot-5 Clovis junior Marvin Cox near the midway point of the opening stanza, but the Matadors took off from there with Hill and Coleman each scoring seven points in the period.

“That’s our strength,” Brown said of his deep stable of guards. “We start five really good guards and we can bring some size off the bench. I know (we have) some of the best guards in the state.”

Clovis forced the Matadors into a timeout with a 7-0 run in just over a minute, capped by a 3-point basket from senior guard Manny Gutierrez, and the Cats were as close as 37-26 with five minutes left in the third frame. But a bevy of turnovers – Clovis had 26 for the game to 14 for Sandia, including only five in the first three periods – helped the Matadors stretch the margin to 22 points heading into the final eight minutes.

Mattox was happy to see his team keep the game from being a total blowout … but not much else.

“I’m pleased with the way we fought back,” he said. “But it comes back the cultural stuff.”

Junior post Champ Gooden had a solid game off the bench with 17 points for Clovis, coming off a first-round bye, while Gutierrez and senior guard Brian Weiss had 10 apiece.

“Brian got going in the second half, and Champ was pretty consistent most of the game,” Mattox said. “But we missed a lot of wide-open teammates tonight, and we’re not communicating on the floor.”

Volcano Vista, which won at Sandia 73-67 on Nov. 29, rolled over Roswell High 75-37 in Wednesday’s other championship semifinal. In the consolation bracket, Centennial defeated Taos 59-52 while the Clovis junior varsity surprised Socorro 46-41.


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