By Dave Wagner
David Lansford knows he can’t do everything on a basketball court that he could when he was in high school a quarter of a century ago, but he’s still looking forward to Clovis High’s second annual alumni game scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at Rock Staubus Gym.
First off, it’s a chance to see people you haven’t seen in a while, the Clovis mayor said. And second, it brings back memories of playing days.
“Some of the best times of my life were spent playing Wildcat basketball,” said Lansford, a 1977 CHS graduate.
In last year’s contest, the “Young Guys” outlasted the “Old Guys” 91-88 in what turned out to be a highly-competitive contest. Many of the same players are expected back for this year’s tilt, which will match players who graduated between 2001 and 2003 against those who graduated in 2000 and before.
The coaches are the same as in last year’s game, with former CHS coach Jimmy Joe Robinson leading the older squad and current Wildcats assistant Mike Hankins — who played under Robinson — handling the younger team. Robinson coached CHS from 1971-84, and led the Cats to their only state championship in 1979.
“We had a shot at it,” Robinson said last year’s narrow loss. “We played them a lot better than I thought we would.
“We just need to get after them. But we had a lot of fun (last year). Everybody just played hard.”
Lansford said that while keeping the game competitive is an accomplishment for his group, just playing close isn’t really enough.
“We plan on playing to win,” he said. “The guys that have worn that purple and white jersey don’t take losing very well.”
As a senior in 1976-77, Lansford set single-season school records for free throw percentage (86.8 percent) and most charges taken in a season (23). He added that both marks were eclipsed the following year by Jim Wilkerson.
“He was a good player, nothing but heart,” Robinson said of Lansford. “He did a great job. He was one of those kids you love to coach. He’d do anything he could for the team.”
Lansford said he’s kept himself in reasonable, if not exceptional, shape.
“I don’t really work out that much,” he said. “I do walking. I feel like I’m in fairly decent shape for someone without a regular work regimen.”
The younger squad displayed a balanced attack last year. While only Chris Wetzel (15) scored in double figures for the older team, five made it for the younger set, led by current Eastern New Mexico University player Irshaun Pinckney with 16 points.
Hank Baskett, a two-sport athlete at the University of New Mexico, won last year’s halftime slam-dunk competition and also scored 12 points in the game. He said he’s able to work out on a basketball court once in a while at school.
“It’s different from (playing) football,” said Baskett, who is coming off a solid spring season in football and finished second in high jump in the Mountain West Conference for the second consecutive year. “This is kind of like in high school when you go from football to basketball.”
Baskett is enjoying a brief break before returning to Albuquerque in early June to begin getting ready for football. He said he looks forward to seeing people when he comes back, especially Pinckney, a 2002 grad, and fellow 2001 class member Kerwin Nance.
The game, he stressed, will be fairly competitive.
“It’s pretty serious,” he said. “But it’s good to get back and see everybody.”
Tickets for the game are $5 for reserved seats, $4 for general admission and $2 for 2003 high school graduates and younger.