Senior guard provides spark off bench

Clovis senior Dominique Easterlin drives to the basket during the second half of Tuesday’s game against Alamogordo at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

Senior guard Jacob Jones doesn’t start, doesn’t put up a ton of points, but that doesn’t diminish his role with the Clovis Wildcats.

Jones supplied a key steal and a pair of free throws down the stretch Tuesday to help Clovis hold off pesky Alamogordo 67-57 at Rock Staubus Gym.

“Jacob always provides us with a good spark,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said. “He’s a very hard worker with a great, great attitude.”

With 2:34 left in the game and the Wildcats (8-0) struggling to maintain a 21-point lead that had shrunk to six, Jones stripped the ball from Alamogordo’s Richard Gutierrez under the basket and flicked the ball to Tigg Bunton for an easy score.

Less than a minute later, Jones was fouled and calmly sunk two free throws, giving Clovis a 10-point lead. Jones finished with four points.

Bunton finished with a team-high 27 points and senior forward Dominique Easterlin added a season-high 20 points for the Wildcats, who held a sizable height advantage inside over the Tigers.

Isler said the key for Easterlin on Tuesday was that he stayed out of foul trouble.

Clovis went up 15-7 after the first quarter, 36-21 at halftime and built its lead to 50-29. But the Tigers (2-9) went on a 22-7 run late in the third quarter and into the fourth.

The Tigers hit three 3-pointers in the run, and made eight 3-pointers overall. Alamogordo’s Walter Gardner came off the bench to score 13 points, including three 3-pointers.
“We haven’t shot it very well, but it went well tonight,” Tiger coach Mike Day said.

Alamogordo also turned up the pressure defensively, leading to Clovis turnovers and easy Tiger baskets.
“If we can play with maximum effort the whole game, this game is a lot closer,” Day said.

Isler said his starters may have been tired after three games in four days, but that wasn’t an excuse for the bench players.

“Our bench has to do a much better job of maintaining the lead,” Isler said. He added the effort was there, the execution wasn’t. “If you’re going to be a championship team, you’ve got to put teams down when you’ve got the chance.”