CARLSBAD – The Carlsbad Cavemen finally have seen how they can play basketball with a full roster while the Clovis Wildcats had to deal with a short bench in their district rematch.
Both Carlsbad and Clovis came into the game with a 1-2 district record knowing a win keeps their playoff hopes alive while another loss would all but eliminate them from the postseason in May.
Although a close game throughout, the depleted roster for Clovis ended up being too much for the Wildcats to overcome with Carlsbad leading by double digits throughout the second half and ending with a 46-47 win.
How it happened
Last time these teams met in Clovis, Carlsbad was missing four players due to COVID-19 quarantines. This time the Wildcats came into The Cave with three starters unable to play. An emphatic fastbreak dunk by Damian Perez capped off the night in the waning seconds of the game, signaling Carlsbad still can make the postseason.
Clovis started out the second quarter leading, 7-6 and after a bankshot 3-pointer by Wildcat junior Juan Hernandez the lead grew, 16-11. That was the last time Clovis would score in the half.
A jumper by Devin McWright began a 12-0 run for the Cavemen through the third quarter. Carlsbad took the lead when sophomore Tylen Gonzales hit two free throws to put Carlsbad up, 17-16 with 90 seconds left in the half and Carlsbad would never trail again.
Carlsbad’s defense limited Clovis to just five points in the third quarter, allowing the Cavemen to add to the lead and head into the fourth quarter up 29-21.
They Said It
“Coach Zumbrun runs a really well-coached zone (defense). With zone you don’t want to take early quick shots. It changes the pace of the game which we didn’t mind because through out injuries this week with three starters out we’ve played more zone than I think I ever have in my career.
“Credit to all these kids for doing what they had to do to just be able to play in the state this year. Our seniors at least got a season and they’ve been through a lot. No summer games to get ready and we had a lot of young guys come up and were thrown into a 12-game season where you play four games in a week. I’m really proud of our kids because these are hard circumstances. They’ve worked every day like it was a normal season”
– Jaden Isler, Clovis head coach
“Clovis plays great half-court man defense. We had to mix it up. We knew we had some deep 3’s Clovis would give us. We talked between quarters and wanted to push the ball. We knew Clovis was down a few kids and didn’t think they had the depth so we said push the ball and see if we could get something out of transition. That allowed us to get more comfortable.
“I’m proud of our kids. We started the district 0-2. I think we’re a longshot (to qualify for the postseason) but that makes you a dangerous team. We’re right there with everybody. In this district everybody’s pretty much equal. All these games will be dogfights and we’ll gain more experience. These guys have grown so much and I asked my guys after the game ‘Who really wants to play us now with a complete squad, with the depth we have and the way we shoot the ball?’ We’re going to be a tough out.”
– John Zumbrun, Carlsbad head coach
Damian Perez led all scorers with 14 points. Devin McWright added 10 and Andrew Miller scored nine points for the Cavemen.
Juan Hernandez led Clovis with 13 points as its lone double-digit scorer. Darrell Lewis added seven and Dominick Brown and CJ Gutierrez each scored six points.
Carlsbad stays home to host Lovington on Saturday. The Cavemen resume their district schedule on Tuesday in Roswell. Clovis hits the road to face Hobbs on Tuesday and will return home for its season finale against Roswell on April 30.
Matthew Asher can be reached at 575-628-5524, [email protected] or @Caveman_Masher on Twitter.