Albuquerque — The Cibola Cougars shot themselves back into the District 4-5A race.
Cibola’s Roman Andrade, Jeff Apodaca and Derek Apodaca combined for 11 3-pointers and 54 points as the Cougars beat Clovis 73-55 Friday in Albuquerque.
Andrade led Cibola with 21 points.
“It was all their guards shooting,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said. “They just shot the lights out.”
Leading by five at halftime, the Cougars got hot midway through the third quarter, going on a 21-5 run to pull away.
Andrade and the Apodacas each had at least one 3-pointer in the run.
Isler said his team had trouble fighting through the Cibola screens and allowed dribble penetration which led to the Cougars (16-3, 1-2) getting open shots. When Clovis then went to double-team, it left a Cibola shooter open outside.
“I don’t fault our kids’ effort tonight,” Isler said. “We just didn’t play well enough on defense.”
Cibola’s 73 points is 25 more than Clovis gives up on average.
“We know we’re a better team than that,” Isler said.
Clovis (17-3, 2-1) chopped the lead down to eight points in the fourth but a final 3-point run and free throws late sealed Cibola’s first district win.
University of New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay watched potential recruits Tigg Bunton and Cibola’s Kasey Cunningham battle it out.
Bunton led the Wildcats with 22 points, while Cunningham scored 15 points, had 10 rebounds and blocked six shots. Most of Cunningham’s points came in the fourth quarter, according to Isler.
Cibola coach Ray Rodriguez said this game was a must-win for his team, which had lost its first two district games.
On the flip-side, the Wildcats could have started 3-0 in district with only a game left against last-place Carlsbad on the first half of the schedule. However, Isler said he didn’t expect to run away with the district.
“We knew it was going to be a long district race,” Isler said. “You can’t get too low on one district loss and you can’t get too high on one district win.”
The ’Cats will have to make due without defensive specialist Jacob Jones for at least one district game.
Jones cut his lip midway through the second quarter, but played through it. After the game he needed eight stitches to close the wound and Isler said he’ll miss the next two games, at Carlsbad and at Moriarty.
Isler hopes to have Jones back, ironically, for the Cibola game on Feb. 8 at home.