Cats survive scare in Carlsbad

CNJ staff

CARLSBAD — It wasn’t pretty, but the Clovis High Wildcats will take it.

The Cats struggled to pull away Tuesday night against the last-place team in District 4-5A, a Carlsbad squad they had beaten by 30 points two weeks earlier at home. But with the score tied, Clovis scored the first nine points of the final quarter and held on for a 52-49 win over the Cavemen.

Clovis (18-5, 3-2 district) has struggled after a 14-1 start, losing at Eldorado and at home to Hobbs to fall to third place in 4-5A. Still, the Cats control their destiny if they can beat Manzano and Eldorado at home this weekend and Hobbs on the road in the regular-season finale Feb. 20.

“That’s what we told our kids,” CHS boys coach J.D. Isler said. “We just never could get away from (Carlsbad). It doesn’t matter how you win right now, you’ve just got to win.”
Junior Dominique Easterlin scored 20 points and senior Justin Pinckney added 15 for the Cats (18-5, 3-2 district).

They each scored seven of Clovis’ 15 points in the final period.

“I thought we played pretty good in stretches (on offense),” Isler said. “We just got hurt by foul trouble.”

Carlsbad (9-14, 0-5), which got 16 points from sophomore guard Alex Bustos, pulled to within a point with about 30 seconds left. Pinckney hit the first of two free throws, and after Easterlin grabbed the missed second shot, point guard Bud Willis hit 1-of-2 free throws.

Isler said the Cats switched from man-to-man to a zone defense after a timeout. Carlsbad’s Matt Galindo got off a long 3-pointer over Willis that was well off the mark as time ran out.

“Bud did a good job of guarding him,” Isler said.
Isler said foul problems helped stymie the Cats, who never trailed after erasing an early 4-0 deficit with 11 consecutive points.

Clovis routed the Cavemen 98-68 last week at Rock Staubus Gym.

“I anticipated a tough game,” Isler said. “It’s always a tough place to play here. I thought they (Cavemen) just came out and played loose.

“I thought our defense was pretty good tonight, but they hit some tough shots.”

Clovis 52, Carlsbad 49
Clovis (18-5, 3-2) —
Bud Willis 2 2-4 7, Tizrick Phillips 0 0-0 0, Zac Watters 0 0-0 0, Jacob Jones 1 0-0 2, Elliott Hita 0 1-2 1, John Props 1 0-0 2, Justin Pinckney 6 2-5 15, Dominique Easterlin 7 5-5 20, Mario Caswell 1 3-6 5, Jeff Epps 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 13-22 52.
Carlsbad (9-14, 0-5) — Matt Galindo 2 5-5 9, A.J. Rodriguez 3 0-0 8, Joey Ongaga 2 2-2 7, Jeff Forrest 1 1-2 3, Alex Bustos 4 8-9 16, Tanner Nygren 1 0-0 2, Ricky Neatherlin 0 1-3 1, Torey Rodriguez 1 1-2 3. Totals 14 18-23 49.
Clovis 13 15 9 15 — 52
Carlsbad 9 17 11 12 — 49
3-pointers — Clovis, Easterlin, Pinckney, Willis. Carlsbad, Rodriguez 2, Ongaga.