CHS BASKETBALL: Playoff delay slows Cats

Clovis High’s Maria Sena runs the floor during a ballhandling drill in Lady Wildcats basketball practice on Tuesday at Rock Staubus Gym. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

Clovis High boys basketball coach J.D. Isler is used to waiting for the football team to wade through the Class 5A state playoffs before he gets a full squad in practice.

Now, along with everyone else, he’s waiting for the playoffs to begin.
A suit filed by parents of 19 Las Cruces High football players against the NMAA over the forfeiture of two games due to an ineligible player has delayed the start of the playoffs at least one week. The championship game was scheduled for Dec. 2, but ostensibly will also have to be pushed back.

That means Isler, who because of the playoffs did not schedule any games before Dec. 7, could still be faced with canceling some early contests depending on how long the football team plays.

“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out,” said Isler, whose son, Jaden, plays safety for the football team and guard on the basketball squad.

Both Isler’s squad and the rebuilding Lady Wildcats have a number of players absent from this week’s start of practice. The CHS volleyball team is competing in 5A state competition this weekend in Albuquerque.

Lady Cats coach Miles Watters said he’s missing about five of his potential varsity players.

“We’re just trying to get everybody together,” Watters said. “We won’t really have everybody until next week.”

The Lady Cats were unbeaten in winning the 2005 state title, and reached the 5A semifinals last March. They lost five key seniors off that team, including three who rank in the top 10 all-time at the school in scoring — Brittany Blackmon (first), Aimee Hilburn (third) and Tori Quintana (ninth).

“We’re starting over,” Watters said. “Finally on Monday, we’ll be at the stage where we can start teaching.

“We’re a whole new look. We’re testing the waters to see who can do what.”

The boys, meantime, have only two varsity players working out at this point — senior guard Cody Thornsbury, a returning starter, and junior guard Chris Moreno, who is moving up this year from the junior varsity.

Once they get everyone, though, Isler is confident the Cats will do well. CHS went 16-10 last season and lost in the round of 16 in the 5A playoffs.

“We feel good about the kids we’ve got back,” he said. “We feel like they understand what it takes to be a state tournament team.

“We’re very excited about the amount of experience we’ve got coming back. We’re just not going to get started as soon as we thought we would.”