ARTESIA — Whatever the Clovis High boys basketball team did in the first quarter against host Artesia on Saturday night, the Wildcats would certainly like to bottle it.
Clovis hit 15-of-18 shots, including seven 3-pointers, in bolting to a 38-7 lead after one period and the Cats cruised to a 73-40 victory over the Bulldogs in the championship game of the Artesia Invitational.
The early onslaught took any suspense out of the game, and most of the second half was played with a runnning clock with the Cats (3-0) ahead by at least 35 points.
CHS coach J.D. Isler said he didn’t quite expect what happened in the opening period, but added that he knew his squad was capable of something like that.
“We felt like Artesia could not run with us,” Isler said. “The tempo of the game just got away from them (early).
“I’d be willing to say this is the best-shooting team Clovis has had in some time. Our guards can all shoot, and they can all penetrate and shoot.”
Junior guard Jaden Isler scored 18 points for the Cats, while junior guard Bryce Hill hit all four of his 3-pointers in the first quarter and finished with 16 points. Senior guard Cody Thornsbury added 12 points, including two first-quarter treys.
Coach Isler also pointed to the inside work of senior Michael Lewis and junior Layne Strebeck, each of whom finished with nine points.
“We got good production from Michael and Layne,” he said. “When we have that kind of balance, inside and out, and the tempo’s in our favor, we’re extremely tough.”
The Cats jumped on Artesia (3-1) quickly, getting a couple of early 3-pointers from Hill and another one from Thornsbury.
“The tempo was really good for us,” coach Isler said. “I think (Artesia’s) legs got tired.”
Sophomore guard Derek Montoya led Artesia with 13 points. Senior guard Chris Speck added 11.
The Cats open their home schedule on Tuesday night against Amarillo High, and coach Isler expects a stiff test from the Sandies.
“They’re going to have about 10 games under their belt,” he said. “They’re a very good team, and it’ll be a good test for us.”