With the off-the-court storm settling down, at least for the moment, Clovis High boys basketball coach J.D. Isler is hoping his team can get back to just playing basketball.
Rio Rancho certainly proved to be no match for the free-wheeling Wildcats on Tuesday as Clovis scored the game’s first 13 points, led 31-7 at the quarter and rolled to a 91-39 rout of the Rams at Rock Staubus Gym.
Senior forward Marcus Slocum scored 21 points, including 16 in the first quarter, to lead four Clovis players in double figures. Freshman guard D.J. Blackmon added 15 points, senior post Logan Turnbow scored 14 and junior guard Deven Crockett added 13 for the Cats (4-3), who ended a two-game losing streak and face Rio Grande in the first round of the Southwest Dairy Farmers Classic on Monday at The Rock.
“We’ll be ready for the tournament,” said Slocum, who transferred to CHS this year from Portales. “We haven’t won the tournament in a couple of years, so that’s motivation for us.”
Isler got a court injunction last week to continue coaching after he was suspended for the remainder of the school year by the New Mexico Activities Association for what it termed “undue influence” on players who transferred into the CHS program this year.
“The kids have had a lot to deal with the last couple of weeks,” said Isler, referring to his situation. “I think their character showed through tonight.”
Slocum scored two baskets, then kicked out to guard Alex Flores for a 3-pointer as the Cats opened an 11-0 lead in less than two minutes. He ended the early run with a pair of free throws.
“We wanted to go out on a good note and have some confidence before we go into our tournament,” Slocum said. “With all this stuff going on, it just motivated us. People want to see us fail and we want to show that no matter what, we’re going to play hard.”
Isler said the Cats have had back-to-back solid games, noting they played well in a 68-65 loss Friday at Plainview.
“We had a great effort at Plainview,” he said. “Our kids have really come out and played well the last two games, especially early, and I think that’s a key for us.”
The Rams (5-5), who have now lost four in a row, managed only two baskets in the first quarter and had three 3-pointers in the second period, which ended with Clovis cruising with a 52-25 cushion.
The game was played with a running clock — a lead of at least 35 points after halftime — for the final 13 1/2 minutes.
First-year Rams coach Wally Salata was so frustrated with his team’s performance that he had his players — from varsity on down — running stairs for about 20 minutes after the game.
Senior guard Jeric Magnant was the only double-figure scorer for the Rams, finishing with 13 points.