Willis, Pinckney ready for all-star game

Clovis High grads Justin Pinckney (left) and Bud Willis will play for the South in tonight’s New Mexico Coaches Association Class 4A-5A all-star basketball game in Albuquerque. Photo by Eric Kluth

By Dave Wagner

Clovis High grads Justin Pinckney and Bud Willis will be off to college soon, but first they’ll take part in the 58th annual New Mexico High School Coaches Association Class 4A-5A boys all-star game tonight at The Pit in Albuquerque.

The game is scheduled for 8 p.m., or about a half-hour after the completion of the Class 1A-2A contest.

Pinckney, a 6-foot-2 forward-guard, is headed for Abilene Christian University this fall while Willis, a 6-2 point guard, will play at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs.

They’re looking forward to competing with and against some of the best players in the state.

“It should be a lot of fun,” said Pinckney, who averaged 20.2 points and 3.1 assists for the 21-7 Wildcats in 2003-04. “We’ve got a lot of good guys on the team, and they’re all pretty good. I’m sure they’ve all been playing over the summer.”

Of their 10 teammates in this game, Willis and Pinckney played against six of them during the 2003-04 season. The teams began practicing on Monday night.

Willis averaged 10.5 points, 7.5 assists and 3.7 rebounds last season for the Cats.

“One of my college teammates is on the team (Carl Washington of Mayfield),” he said. “We just came out here to have some fun.”

Pinckney, whose brother Irshaun will be a senior at rival Eastern New Mexico University this year, said he’s tried to maintain his conditioning through the summer, and doesn’t anticipate that will be a problem in tonight’s game.

“I’ve been shooting, lifting (weights) and just working out a lot trying to get ready for the season,” he said.

Coaches are Eldorado’s Roy Sanchez for the South and Kirtland Central’s Steve Scott for the North. The South leads the all-time series 32-25, but the North has averaged nearly 110 points in winning five of the last six.