Football success means depleted basketball roster

Clovis freshman Jaden Isler is scheduled to start today’s season-opener against Amarillo-Tascosa. A number of junior varsity players will play on varsity because so many varsity players are still playing football. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth

By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

Success on the gridiron is having a direct effect on the basketball court at Clovis High.

When the Wildcats open the 2004-05 hoops season at 7 tonight against Amarillo Tascosa, seven varsity basketball players won’t be available because they haven’t turned in their shoulder pads, including returning part-time starters in guards John Props and Elliott Hita.

“We’re glad for our football team,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said, entering his fourth season with the Cats.

Isler said the subtractions put even more of the emphasis on senior guard Tizrick Phillips, senior post Tigg Bunton and senior forward Dominique Easterlin.

“They’ve got to keep us above water,” Isler said of the first few games of the season. He added it may be until Christmas before the entire roster is in place and playing as a team.

Bunton, Easterlin and Phillips will be in the starting lineup along with senior Wendell Belford, who spent last year on junior varsity, and freshman Jaden Isler, the coach’s son.
Junior varsity players will be brought up to fill out the rest of the squad.

“You never know how those young guys are going to play under those circumstances,” Isler said.

The Rebels have already played several games. Isler said like the Cats, the Rebels like to press man-to-man and play up-tempo on offense, so he expects a fast game. Their key player is 6-4 post Jefferey Gilmore.

The Wildcats have beaten the Rebels two of the last three years and Isler said the Wildcats should make it three of four, even under the circumstances.

“We should expect our players to go out and win,” Isler said, adding that his team is tired of practicing each other. “It’s time for us to play.”

The Lady Cats (1-0) have already played their first game, beating Lovington soundly Tuesday, 85-31. With a week in between their first game and tonight’s 5:30 p.m. match at home against Hereford, Texas, Lady Wildcats coach Miles Watters said he’s stressed defense in practice.

Even though Lovington didn’t score many points, he said the Lady Cats had too many defensive breakdowns in their first game.

Like Tascosa, the Lady Whitefaces already have six games under their drawstrings. Watters said he wants to see his team perform against Hereford’s man-to-man press and block out on the boards against Hereford’s post players.

“If we take care of business, we’ll be OK,” Watters said.