By Dave Wagner
Stephen Monson figured his basketball career was over when Clovis High’s season ended in early March.
Monson will get one more chance to play competitively when he joins CHS teammate Derond Jackson as members of the South squad in the 57th annual New Mexico High School Coaches Association Class 4A-5A all-star game tonight at The Pit in Albuquerque.
Tipoff is scheduled for approximately 8:30 p.m., with a Class 1A-2A contest making up the first half of the doubleheader.
The games are for graduated seniors.
“I wasn’t expecting to play because (originally) I was an alternate,” said Monson, a 6-foot-3 guard. “When I got the call (a week ago Monday), I was really happy.”
Players gathered on Monday in Albuquerque, leaving the teams only a few days to get ready. But South coach David Medina of Belen said things have rounded into shape.
“We’re looking pretty good,” Medina said. “We have good chemistry and the kids are playing unselfishly. The kids from Clovis are doing a good job. They’re both very athletic and a real asset to the team.”
Monson, who plans to attend Kansas State University this fall, said that before getting the call he hadn’t played since the CHS alumni game in May.
“Our team looks pretty good,” he said. “The first day of practice the chemistry was a little off, but it’s gotten better.”
Both players said they’re comfortable with their teammates, some of whom they’ve played against in high school and others whom they didn’t know.
Jackson noted that the roles have been pretty well defined for having to put a team together on such short notice. It’s not a particularly big squad, with the majority of the players ranging from 6-2 to 6-5.
“We know who the shooters are and who can handle the ball,” Jackson said. “Pretty much anybody we put on the court can hit a three-pointer.
“It’s pretty fun. Having played against some of them and now being on the same team, they’re pretty cool guys.”
The Clovis players have competed against South teammates Alan Tuttle of Hobbs, Kyle Puett of Las Cruces High and Aaron King and Ivan Tate of Alamogordo. They’ve also gone against some of the Albuquerque area players on the North squad.
“We’ve got a real solid team,” Jackson said. “Everybody on the team is great, and we’ve meshed together pretty well.”
Jackson, who went 49 feet in triple jump in a meet this spring and later captured the Class 5A state championship in that event, plans to attend Butler County Community College in Kansas and compete in basketball and track.
“They recruited me more for track, but I also got a couple of letters for basketball from them during the basketball season,” he said.
The South has a 32-24 edge in the series, but the North has won the past two games — including a 115-113 shootout last year — and four of the last five.