Wildcats blow by Abilene Hawks

By Kevin Wilson

kwilson@cnjonline.com

The basketball adage goes that shooting 40 percent from behind the 3-point line is just as good as shooting 60 percent inside it.

Shoot around 60 percent from behind the arc? You’re definitely going to the championship for the Southwest Dairy Farmers Classic. That’s where the Clovis Wildcats are going, after hot outside shooting carried them to an 86-54 rout over the Abilene Hawks homeschool group on Friday night at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Clovis guard Marquese Gaither drives down the baseline after getting by Abilene Hawks defender  Allen Martin in the first quarter Friday night at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. Gaither scored 11 of his career-high 21 points in the first quarter of the Wildcats’ 86-54 win.

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson
Clovis guard Marquese Gaither drives down the baseline after getting by Abilene Hawks defender Allen Martin in the first quarter Friday night at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. Gaither scored 11 of his career-high 21 points in the first quarter of the Wildcats’ 86-54 win.

Willie McCray led all scorers with 25 points on 7-of-15 shooting, but senior Marquese Gaither was the story for Clovis (6-2) with 11 of his career-high 21 points in the first 5:30 to give Clovis a 21-3 advantage.

With its fifth-straight win, Clovis advances to the 7:30 p.m. title game against Sandia, which delivered the Wildcats’ last defeat two weeks ago.

“There are a lot of things we want to do better,” Clovis coach Matt King said of the 62-50 setback. “They’re so big and talented you’ve got to think about how you defend them. From there, you have to know how you’re going to get good shots. They present a lot of problems.”

There were no such problems on Friday, or if they were, they were short-lived.

Paced by Gaither (5-of-6), McCray (4-of-7) and Brandon Brewer (3-of-5), the Wildcats shot 14-of-24 from the arc, nearly matching the scoring total of the overmatched Hawks (10-7) on treys alone.

“I was just shooting with confidence,” said Gaither, who also hit a game-tying three in the Wildcats’ 56-54 comeback Thursday over St. Michael’s. “My teammates had a lot of energy, and we just had everything going.”

In all, Clovis shot far better from the 3-point line than it did on 2-point field goals (16-of-51).

“We shot the 3 well, but that was because the ball touched the paint and we were making good passes,” King said. “When we do that, good things happen for us.”

John Thomas Harris led the Hawks with 15 points and six rebounds.

Sophomore Roland Chavez had 10 points and five rebounds for Clovis on a night where 11 Wildcats scored and King quickly went to his bench with an early lead.

Abilene Hawks coach Milo Harris couldn’t be reached for comment following the game, the final contest of the 12-hour, 11-game slate at Clovis High School.