For the second time in less than two weeks, Phoenix North left New Mexico a winner.
Robert Arvizu scored 24 to lead four Mustangs in double figures, and University of Arizona signee Daniel Bejarano scored six of his 18 during an 8-0 fourth-quarter run that turned the tide in an 81-67 victory Saturday over the Clovis Wildcats.
The Mustangs (12-3), who defeated the host Eagles in the title game of the Hobbs Invitational Jan. 30, went 1-1 in the inaugural New Mexico/Arizona Challenge and helped Arizona claim a 5-3 advantage in the two-day, eight-game round robin.
Bejarano, whose Mustangs moved up to Division 5A I after winning the 5A II title last season, credited the energy of senior Dylan Jones while he and others were on the bench with early foul trouble.
Jones had 10 points and five blocks on the night.
“Everybody who comes off the bench helps us,” said Bejarano, who exploded for 13 in the fourth quarter. “(Jones) came up with some big baskets and blocked shots.”
Count Clovis post Logan Turnbow impressed. Turnbow, who scored 10 of Clovis’ first 14 and finished with a game-high 26, said the Mustangs didn’t have much of a dropoff when they had to go to Jones and other reserves.
“He jumps out of the gym,” Turnbow said of Jones, who celebrated his 18th birthday Saturday. “I thought I could post him up fairly easily, but he could really jump.”
The Wildcats (7-6) traded baskets with the Mustangs for most of the third quarter, but could never surpass Phoenix North in the second half. Turnbow scored on a feed from Marcus Slocum, who added 17 points, with 5:32 to play to make it a 55-53 game, but the Wildcats hit just two of their next nine shots and Bejarano led the late Mustang rally.
“The final score wasn’t indicative of the way the game was played,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said. “They just made a big play whenever they needed to have it.”
North coach Joseph Bustos said late in the game, he just told his squad to keep their composure and not gamble on defense, and they followed through.
The Mustangs planned to leave 3 a.m. Sunday on a chartered bus they shared with Estrella Foothills in an attempt to be home before the Arizona Cardinals’ playoff game against the Green Bay Packers.
Clovis, meanwhile, hopes the losses it took over the weekend will mean wins later.
“We didn’t want to come out 0-2,” Isler said, “but we’re leaving this tournament feeling like we can play with anybody. We’ve got to get better, and we’ve got two big games (Highland Friday, Rio Rancho Cleveland Saturday) next weekend.”