Phillips’ shot propels Clovis over Gadsden

Clovis senior Dominique Easterlin goes by Gadsden’s Manuel Bojorquez in the fourth quarter for two of his game-high 14 points as Clovis beat Gadsden on Friday 37-35. (CNJ staff photo: John Eisel)

John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

Tizrick Phillips picked a good time to score his only two points of the game.

The Clovis senior point guard’s bank shot in a crowded paint as time ran out gave Clovis a 37-35 win over Gadsden on Friday at the inaugural Purple Pepper Shootout at Rock Staubus Gym.

The last play was originally supposed to go to senior guard John Props at the corner according to senior forward Dominique Easterlin. But Props was covered, so Phillips drove the ball up the lane and took the shot.

“Tiz made a great decision and a great shot,” Easterlin said.

Phillip’s play was one of a relatively few for Clovis (15-1). Gadsden’s patient, controlled offense sucked tens of seconds off the clock every time they had the ball, slowing down the pace more than Clovis would have liked.

“It really wasn’t our kind of game,” Easterlin said.

“It’s hard to play against that team.” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said of Class 5A Gadsden (14-5). “They limit your possessions.”

The Panther’s patience on offense forced the Cats to be persistent on defense.

“The did a good job of consistently playing good defense,” Gadsden coach Saul Perez said. “We were surprised at how Clovis was able to sustain that defense.”

Toward the end of the third quarter, Gadsden was passing the ball around the perimeter, and had eaten away nearly 45 seconds off the clock when freshman Jaden Isler made the steal. He couldn’t convert on a short jumper on the fast break, but Easterlin pulled down the rebound and put in the layup to put Clovis up 31-26. It was the largest lead anyone had in the ballgame.

The Wildcats got the win despite playing without starting center Tigg Bunton, who sat for one game as punishment for tossing his jersey into the crowd in Tuesday’s game at Portales.

“Everybody had to step up and take his spot,” Easterlin said. “I had to take more shots and rebound a little bit more.”

Easterlin finished with 14 points and Devin Sweet added 12.

Gadsden’s 6-foot-6 junior center Armando Lerma hit two 3-pointers in leading the team with 13 points.

The Cats play Amarillo at 6 p.m. Saturday at Rock Staubus on the second day of the Purple Pepper Shooutout. The Sandies defeated Roswell 74-64 on Friday.

The Panthers play Roswell at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Clovis 37, Gadsden 35
Gadsden (11-5) — Victor Osequera 1 0-0 2, Joshua Padilla 0 0-0 0, Arley Gonzales 0 0-0 0, Daniel Rico 0 2-2 2, Nathan Barreras 0 0-0 0, Joshua Bonilla 0 0-0 0, Frank Borden 4 0-0 8, Hector Contreras 2 0-0 4, Manuel Bojorquez 3 0-0 6, Armando Lerma 4 3-4 13. Totals 14 5-6 35.
Clovis (15-1) — Tizrick Phillips 1 0-0 2, Jordan Moore 0 0-0 0, Elliott Hita 0 3-4 3, Jacob Jones 1 0-0 2, Jaden Isler 0 0-0 0, John Props 1 0-0 2, Devin Sweet 5 2-4 12, Dominique Easterlin 7 0-1 14, Chris Finch 1 0-0 2, Cody Thornsbury 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 5-9 37
Gadsden 9 13 4 9 — 35
Clovis 9 13 9 6 — 37

3-pointers — Gadsden, Lerma 2.