The fans at Rock Staubus Gymnasium got exactly the play they wanted when the second half started with a lob pass, caught and finished by a thunderous two-handed stuff from Clovis guard D.J. Blackmon.
Turned out, that was the kind of play visiting Harmony Science Academy wanted to see as well, and the host Wildcats gave them plenty more in an 84-54 victory to close out the first day of the Southwest Dairy Farmers Classic.
Blackmon and Dawson each had 17 points to lead five in double figures for Clovis (6-2), which moves on to face unbeaten Albuquerque High in a 7:30 p.m. semifinal.
The Wildcats, who also got 11 each from Willie McCray, Drew Cole and Donnis Davis, never trailed and led by as many as 32 with the Wildcats' bench emptied in the fourth.
While Harmony Science (13-1) never seriously threatened, coach Mike Gonzales said it was good for his squad — pretty much unchallenged to this point playing in Texas Class 1A — to face the level of players and execution at New Mexico 5A.
"They've got a good team — guys who can shoot, guys who can go down low and all able to get down the floor," Gonzales said. "They've got guys who can get above the rim and make plays you don't see at the 1A level.
"It's like putting our kids in a calculus class, then putting them back in algebra class."
The Wildcats conceded the perimeter game to the Tigers most of the night, and exploited the inexperience of a team that started three freshman, including 7-foot-2 center Angel Ramos. A variety of Wildcats defended Ramos, who managed 10 points and scored easily when he limited his defender's space.
"We tried to push him out of the paint," senior forward Marshall Winn said. "We didn't feel that he was much of a threat outside of 7 feet. If we could push him off the block, we felt we were at an advantage."
Ivan Gutierrez led the Tigers with 26 points, including 6-of-14 shooting from beyond the arc.
Clovis coach Matt King said he knew nothing about the Tigers — who accepted the invite to Clovis a week ago instead of heading to a tournament in Lordsburg — until they stepped on the floor, and was very impressed with how the small school played.
"When we got out in transition, it was tough for them to play against that," King said of the Tigers. "Whatever their classification is, they were undefeated coming in, they've been pounding everybody. My 4A team at Los Alamos (in 2010-11) wouldn't have beat them. They're a good team, and they could still make some noise in this tournament."
The Tigers will face Hereford in the 1:10 p.m. game.
SW Dairy Farmers Classic
El Paso Cathedral 43, St. Michael's 39
Sugar Land (Texas) Trent Internationale, first-round bye
Albuquerque High 67, Hereford 45
Clovis 84, El Paso Harmony Science 54
St. Michael's vs. Clovis JV, 11:35 a.m.
Hereford vs. Harmony Science, 1:10 p.m.
Cathedral vs. Trent Internationale, 4:20 p.m.
Albuquerque High vs. Clovis winner, 7:30 p.m.
7th place, 11:35 a.m.
5th place, 1:10 p.m.
3rd place, 4:20 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.