Cats approaching Carlsbad game as do-or-die

CNJ STAFF

The Clovis Wildcats will likely make the 16-team Class 5A state tournament field even if they’re one-and-done in the District 4-5A tournament. But Clovis (12-14) would rather not find that out.

“This is make it or break it time,” Clovis coach Matt King said on the eve of the Wildcats’ game at second-seeded Carlsbad. “We’re approaching it like it’s a do or die. We might get in, but we’re not approaching the game like that. I think that’s the only way you can look at it.”

In either case, a win would certainly help against Carlsbad (18-9), who is coming off an 79-76 overtime loss Monday to Hobbs. The game, which determined the top seed in the three-team district, was won on the last of Trey Nelson’s eighth 3-pointers.

Hobbs (20-7) awaits the winner for the 7 p.m. Saturday championship at Ralph Tasker Arena.

“The thing you want to do with Hobbs is get games in the 60s,” King said. “Most games in the 60s, it’s been really close or Hobbs has lost.”

But that’s only a concern if Clovis can upset Carlsbad, after posting a winless season in district play.

“I don’t think there’s anything that’s new,” King said. “It’s just tightening up and being better. First time, we didn’t take care of the ball very well. Second time, we didn’t handle their big guys well, particularly Josh Miller.”

Against either district team, King said the key is to avoid shooting a poor percentage. When asked how much of a factor the bigs for Hobbs and Carlsbad are on shooting percentages, King agreed it makes a difference.

The Wildcats have three players taller than 6-foot-3, and their tallest rotation player is 6-foot-5 senior Justin Henderson. The Cavemen have 6-foot-5 Josh Miller and 6-foot-7 Brenden Boatwright. Hobbs has two players taller than 6-foot-3, but one of them is 6-foot-10 junior Kelvin Jones.

“I think that is a big deal,” King said. “We don’t have the biggest team in the world. With every inch, shots become easier.”

 

District 4-5A tournament

No. 3 Clovis (12-14) at No. 2 Carlsbad (18-9)

7 p.m. Thursday

On the air: 1240 KCLV-AM, 99.9 KTQM-FM.

Last time out: The Wildcats suffered a 77-52 loss at Hobbs in a game they led by 10 in the second half. Carlsbad is coming off a 79-76 loss to Hobbs in the tiebreaker game for the top seed in the district tournament.

Last meeting: Feb. 18, Carlsbad 64-61.

Cavemen players to watch: F Josh Miller, Sr., 6-5; C Brenden Boatwright, Fr., 6-7.

Importance: The winner will travel to Hobbs Saturday for the district championship. Clovis must win tonight and Saturday to extend its district tournament title streak to seven.

— compiled by Kevin Wilson