MILK COW CLASSIC: Rio Rancho edges Cats in OT for title

Clovis High’s Layne Strebeck shoots over Rio Rancho defenders Daniel Steffensen, left, and Chris Newsome during Saturday’s championship game of the Milk Cow Classic at Rock Staubus Gym. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

The Clovis High Wildcats have dominated virtually everybody in their path this season.

Facing a team ranked No. 1 in New Mexico Class 5A in the finals of the Milk Cow Classic on Saturday night, the Cats went toe-to-toe into overtime with Rio Rancho before the Rams prevailed 97-95 when senior guard Marcus Williams rebounded in his own missed shot and scored as time expired.

Williams finished with 28 points while senior forward Daniel Steffensen added seven 3-pointers and 27 points for Rio Rancho (11-1). The Rams also got 16 points from senior forward Noah Wolfe and 12 from junior guard Chris Newsome.

Clovis (10-1), which had won the previous three Milk Cow Classic titles and five of the past six, was led by 25 points from junior guard Bryce Hill, 24 from senior post Michael Lewis and 21 from junior guard Jaden Isler. Also, junior Layne Strebeck added 11 points and sent the game into OT by hitting two free throws with six seconds left in regulation.

“That was probably one of the most exciting games I’ve ever been around, coaching or playing,” Rams coach Brian Smith said. “It seemed like every time someone had the ball, you anticipated something happening.”

Cats coach J.D. Isler said fouls — his squad lost four players to personals, while Rio Rancho lost two — eventually caught up.

“It makes it tough, but our bench came in and did a good job,” he said. “Layne and Aaron (Boydstun) both hit some big free throws.”

It was the first game decided by less than nine points this season for Clovis, which won its first 10 games by an average of 24 points.

“It could’ve gone either way,” Coach Isler said. “But we have a great group of kids, and they’ll continue to get better.

“It’s disappointing, but we’re going to be in other big games. I’m definitely not disappointed with the effort of our kids.”

Rio Rancho, extending its winning streak to 10 games, built an eight-point lead early in the second quarter, but the Cats pulled ahead late in the half before the Rams grabbed a 41-40 edge at the intermission on Newsome’s rebound basket in the closing seconds.

Three-pointers by Cody Thornsbury and Jaden Isler and a three-point play by Lewis staked Clovis to a 51-44 advantage with five minutes left in the third period, but Steffensen buried four consecutive 3-pointers in a span of just over three minutes, and the Rams took a 62-59 lead into the fourth stanza.

Fouls began to pile up in the fast-paced game and the teams exchanged the lead throughout the final period. The Cats lost reserve Manuel Robles early in the segment and Jaden Isler in the final minute of regulation, then saw Lewis and junior Layne Strebeck go out in the OT, while Wolfe and Newsome fouled out for Rio Rancho in the extra session.

The teams match up again on Jan. 19 at Rio Rancho, and Smith said it’ll be another tough battle.

“Clovis gets right in your face (on defense) and they push it up and down the floor,” he said. “Our guys battled back a few times, and I was just proud of the effort. It was a total team effort.”

The all-tournament team included Lewis, Hill, Jaden Isler, Newsome and Williams, as well as Manzano’s Matt Kellogg, Santa Fe St. Michael’s Eric Geyer and Amarillo Tascosa’s Ruben Solis.

Milk Cow Classic
At Rock Staubus Gym
Saturday
Consolation
Abilene Coopler 61, Sante Fe High 43
Santa Fe St. Michael’s 66, Pampa 60
Third place
Manzano 54, Amarillo Tascosa 52
Championship
Rio Rancho 97, Clovis 95, OT

Late summaries
Championship
Rio Rancho 97, Clovis 95
Rio Rancho (11-1) —
Marcus Williams 11 5-10 28, Chris Newsome 3 6-9 12, Ray Stevenson 3 2-2 8, Lawrence Chavez 1 0-0 2, Matt Churchman 1 2-2 4, Noah Wolfe 5 6-6 16, Daniel Steffensen 10 0-1 27, Isaac Aragon 0 0-0 0, Chris Lewis 0 0-0 0. Totals 34 21-30 97.
Clovis (10-1) — Stefan Mills 0 0-0 0, Bryce Hill 9 2-2 25, Jordan Mendoza 0 0-0 0, Manuel Robles 0 1-2 1, Michael Lewis 10 4-5 24, Jaden Isler 9 2-3 21, Cody Thornsbury 3 0-0 8, Layne Strebeck 3 5-6 11, Aaron Boydstun 0 5-8 5. Totals 34 19-26 95.
Rio Rancho 21 19 22 21 14 — 97
Clovis 20 19 20 24 12 — 95
3-pointers —
Rio Rancho, Steffensen 7, Williams. Clovis, Hill 5, Thornsbury 2, Isler. Total fouls — Rio Rancho 23, Clovis 27. Fouled out — Newsome, Wolfe, Robles, M. Lewis, Isler, Strebeck.

Third place
Manzano 54, Amarillo Tascosa 52
Manzano (10-2) —
Zane Crook 0 0-1 0, Jordan Burd 0 0-0 0, Matt Kellogg 5 0-0 13, David Dow 0 0-0 0, Mark Tenorio 1 0-0 2, Jacob Case 3 7-10 14, Jeremy Weiss 1 2-2 4, David Goodloe 0 1-2 1, Jesse Rodriguez 2 5-6 9, Josh Payne 5 1-3 11. Totals 17 15-21 54.
Amarillo Tascosa (9-8) — Wes Patterson 1 0-0 2, D.J. Blackshear 2 0-0 5, Charles Johnson 0 0-0 0, Drew Taylor 3 0-0 6, Anthony Scott 3 0-0 9, Josh Yankovich 0 0-0 0, Ruben Solis 7 2-4 16, C.J. Johnson 2 0-0 4, Jon Davis 5 0-0 10. Totals 23 2-4 52.
Manzano 11 17 16 10 — 54
Tascosa 16 8 16 12 — 52
3-pointers —
Manzano, Kellogg 3, Case. Amarillo Tascosa, Scott 3, Blackshear.