Cats wary of ‘trap game’ at Carlsbad

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

With Friday’s 92-84 win over Hobbs at Rock Staubus Gym, the Clovis High boys basketball team took a big step toward a possible District 4-5A regular-season championship — something the Wildcats haven’t accomplished since 1997.

Still, coach J.D. Isler is wary of a letdown when his team plays at Carlsbad in a district clash set for 7:30 p.m. today because he knows the Cats (14-6, 1-0 district) have stubbed their toes against the Cavemen (8-15, 0-1) in the past.

“I think we’re all aware of the ‘trap game,’” Isler said. “It’s just a matter of us going down there and playing our style of game.”

Clovis’ girls, meantime, host Carlsbad in a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.

Last week, Carlsbad’s boys lost at Hobbs 83-53 on Tuesday and dropped a 66-65 heartbreaker at Artesia on Friday. Isler said the top player for the Cavemen is senior guard Alex Bustos, a good perimeter shooter.

“It’s never an easy game down there,” Isler said. “Carlsbad plays well at home. They’re kind of up-and-down, and their inconsistency scares you a little bit.”

The Cats would like to sweep Carlsbad — the teams meet in Clovis next Tuesday — and position themselves at 3-0 going into the district and regular-season finale at Hobbs on Feb. 17.

“A lot of times you worry that you’ve peaked (too early), but I still think our best basketball is ahead of us,” Isler said. “We’re healthy now and we’ve been playing pretty well together.”

The Lady Wildcats got off to a flying start in district play with Friday’s 57-33 romp at Hobbs, and the struggling Cavegirls (4-18, 0-1) will be hard-pressed to challenge them.

“Obviously, they haven’t hard a whole lot of success, but it’s a district game and you have to be ready to play,” CHS girls coach Miles Watters said. “We’re playing good basketball. If we’ll just stay focused, I think we can still get even better in some areas.”

Clovis (20-2, 1-0) is currently on a nine-game winning streak since losing at home to Mayfield 56-50 on Jan. 3 — its first home setback since falling to Hobbs in 2002-03 district play. The average margin during the winning streak is nearly 20 points, although the Lady Cats have several quality wins in that stretch.

Watters admitted Friday’s domination took him somewhat by surprise.

“But we’re really capable right now of playing some stellar defense,” he said. “What I really liked (about Friday’s win) was we had balanced scoring. They (Lady Eagles) did a good job of bodying up on our posts, but we had other people step up (to score).”