PURPLE PEPPER SHOOTOUT: Cats post win over Taos

Clovis’ Rishard Mathews tries to release a shot over Taos’ Chris Martinez during the second half of Friday’s game in the Purple Pepper Shootout at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

Riding a balanced attack that featured five players in double figures, the Clovis High boys took control early and notched a 71-50 victory over Taos on Friday night in the Purple Pepper Shootout at Rock Staubus Gym.

Junior post Michael Lewis came off the bench for 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Wildcats (11-4), who face Amarillo High in the final game of the event at 7:30 p.m. today.

Roswell High posted a 72-56 win over the Sandies (7-12) in the first game of the night, extending its winning streak to 12 after an 0-3 start.

The Cats turned a two-point lead into an 18-9 margin late in the first quarter against the Class 4A Tigers (8-9), coached by former Portales assistant Richard Apodaca.

Senior Devin Sweet pushed the lead to 40-30 with a basket less than 30 seconds into the third quarter to kick off a 12-0 run, and the margin was never under double figures the rest of the night.

Sweet, who went 6-for-6 from the line, and sophomore Bryce Hill each scored 12 points for the Cats, while junior Cody Thornsbury added three 3-pointers and 11 points and junior Rishard Matthews scored 10. Hill had four of the team’s 11 assists.

Clovis coach J.D. Isler said the Cats generally played better than in Tuesday’s 48-45 escape against Portales.

“We boxed out a lot better and did a better job of getting the ball inside tonight,” said Isler, whose team posted a 42-30 rebounding margin. “We’re going to have to have more of that as the season goes.

“When you have five guys in double figures, it tells you you’re not one-dimensional.”

Taos dressed just nine players for the game. Two players were held out because of academics, another is out due to an ACL injury, and point guard Harold Sanchez missed the game due to the flu.

Still, Apodaca said he liked the way his team competed.
“Our main goal coming into these two games was to play hard,” he said. “Whether you’re short-handed or not, that’s one thing you can control.

“(Clovis is) a good basketball team. Tonight, we learned we have a lot to work on.”

Only senior guard Patrick Rael reached double digits for Taos with 10 points. The Tigers shot just 30 percent from the field.

“I felt we battled; we never gave up,” Apodaca said. “We need to make some adjustments, both offensively and defensively.”

Isler said the Cats will have to play better tonight against an Amarillo High team that is in a building stage.

“Even though they’re not the team they’ve been (in recent years), they’re a well-coached team,” he said. “I think they’re better than what they looked tonight.”