Trailing by five to hot-shooting Carlsbad at halftime, Clovis High’s boys were able to hang their collective hats on one thing — the Cavemen would have a tough time repeating their performance in the second half.
With the regular-season district title at stake, the Wildcats picked up their defensive intensity in the final two periods, outscoring the Cavemen 44-23 and pulling away to a 73-57 victory at Rock Staubus Gym.
The result renders Friday’s regular-season finale at Hobbs meaningless from a district standpoint, since the Cats (13-9, 3-0 district) have already locked up first place and a spot in next week’s 4-5A tournament final.
“It takes some pressure off,” Clovis interim coach Scott Robinson acknowledged, “but we certainly want to go down there and get a win.”
Six-foot-8 senior post Logan Turnbow poured in a career-best 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to help the Cats get over the hump. He scored nine points in a span of less than 60 seconds in the final two minutes of the game, including a 7-of-10 effort from the free-throw line, as Clovis outscored Carlsbad 13-6 in that time.
Turnbow said he didn’t think the team felt any pressure trying to lock up first place. Carlsbad (12-12, 1-3) shot 63 percent in the first half, including 7-of-8 from 3-point range, and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the field (four 3-pointers) in the second stanza in building a 34-29 lead.
“The first half Carlsbad shot well,” Turnbow said. “At halftime, we just said they can’t keep shooting (like that) forever.
“We just had to weather the storm. We knew what we had to do. We had an opportunity (to clinch the top spot) that we had to take advantage of.”
The Cats took the lead for good 39-38 when Turnbow scored off a long rebound with 4:06 left in the third period. Jonathan Langan followed with a 3-pointer from the left wing, and Turnbow’s conventional three-point play in the final minute made it 49-42 after three periods.
“We did a good job the first half of attacking the basket and hitting shots,” Carlsbad coach Cody May said. “They made some adjustments to their defense on some traps against us.
“In the fourth quarter it just kind of got out of hand.”
Clovis, which has often struggled at the line this season, hit 16-of-22 free throws in the final period and finished the night 21-of-29.
Senior Marcus Slocum added 10 points for the Cats, all in the second half.
Junior guard Jack Mulholland led the Cavemen with 12 points off the bench, while senior guard William Utter added three 3-pointers and 11 points.
Clovis played without guards Landyn Snipes (illness) and Alex Flores (ankle). Robinson said Flores could be back Friday, while Snipes may be back in time for the district tournament final next week.