Eloy Hita, left, and Justin Pinckney battle for a rebound Friday during the third annual Wildcat alumni basketball game at Rock Staubus Gym. Photo by Eric Kluth
By Rick White
Clay Whitehead figures he took more shots in Friday’s third annual Wildcat alumni basketball game than he has in his whole high school career.
Whitehead, a 2000 Clovis High grad, scored 28 points to lead the White squad to an 88-85 win before a small crowd at Rock Staubus Gym.
“I like to come back and play in this game,” said Whitehead, a 6-foot-6 business major at Texas Tech. “I’m just glad it didn’t go to overtime. I think we would have died.”
Whitehead, who had a career-high of 15 points his senior year at CHS as a key reserves, hit four 3-pointers in the first half before showing good quickness and agility on several drives to the basket in ther final 20 mintes.
A 3-pointer by Tony Aburto (1996) with 20 seconds left proved to be the difference.
Aburto added 19 points and teamed with 6-8 Sul Ross University senior Justin Stewart (17 points) to dominate the inside.
Justin Pinckney and Bud Willis, both 2004 grads, led the younger Purple team with 20 and 17 points respectively.
Sponsored by the CHS boys basketball booster club, the game lacked the player and crowd particpation it had in the first two years.
The game was postponed a week because of a scheduling conflict and organizers weren’t sure until mid-week whether the game would take place.
Bobby Hill, the oldest player in the game at 49, provided some comic relief in the second half when one of his early 1990-era Nike sneaker literally fell apart when he was going for a steal.
Hill, a 1973 grad and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad engineer, joked the shoe might be as old as some of the players on the court.
“I just reached for the ball and it came apart,” Hill said.
Hill did get a pair of replacement sneakers but never made it back in the game.
Down by as many as nine points in the first half, the Purple team rallied in the third quarter.
A Stephan Monson (2003) layup off a feed from Willis gave the Purple a 67-60 lead with a little more than a minute left in the third quarter.
Elias Chavez, who hit a big 3-pointer that helped the White team rally from four points down in the final minute, said he learned about the game Friday morning.
“I wanted to play in it last year,” the 1997 grad said. “It was a lot of fun. It’s good to be out here and see everybody.”
With seven players on each team, both squads tired easily.
“We were on our last legs,” said Chavez, a construction worker who added that chasing around his two young boys helps keep him in shape.