Normally, Clovis winning by 27 points would be a positive for the Wildcats and a negative for the opposition.
View Tuesday’s 87-60 Wildcat win over Carlsbad through the prism of Clovis’ 70-28 win Saturday against the Cavemen, and the perspective changes.
Clovis (22-2, 3-0 District 4-5A) was never challenged after Lathan Lieb scored 12 of his game-high 23 in the second quarter, and the lead never dipped below double figures in the second half.
But there wasn’t much celebration from the Wildcats following their seventh-straight win.
“We just didn’t come ready to play,” said Clovis guard John Dawson, who scored 13 points. “I feel like we took them for granted, and they came out with their best game.”
Jack Mulholland scored 22 to lead the Cavemen (8-20, 0-3), who led in the final seconds of the first quarter before Lincoln Nora’s buzzer-beating layup gave Clovis a 19-18 advantage.
“The kids played well,” Carlsbad coach Cody May said. “I think they were a little bit intimidated Saturday. Tonight, they played hard and more confidently.”
Clovis never trailed in the final three quarters, but didn’t put together big runs as Carlsbad handled the Wildcats’ pressure defense and minimized their disadvantage in athleticism.
“I just don’t feel like we had any energy in our press,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said. “When you don’t press with energy, you give up layups and good shots.”
But the young Cavemen had their limits.
“We’ve got speed; what we don’t have is experience,” May said. “We lost 10 seniors from what I thought was a pretty good team last year — we made the state tournament for the first time in 20 years.
“(Clovis has) talent, height, speed, the whole nine yards. They’re a good basketball team.”
Isler credited Nora (15 points) and Craig Cook (18 points) with solid games in the frontcourt, but said a similar defensive effort won’t be enough for the rest of the season, let alone Friday’s tilt against Hobbs.
“This time of year, you’ve got to be able to defend,” Isler said. “Hobbs is going to come in with a lot of emotion, a lot of energy. We’ve got to match that.”