Clovis coach J.D. Isler is surprised that with 18 wins Alamogordo managed only the 12th seed in the 16-team Class 5A boys state basketball tournament.
After all, the Wildcats (19-9) finished with just one more win.
“Winning 18 games, they’re much better than the 12th seed,” Isler said of the Tigers. “I’ve got concerns about matching up with them.”
The teams face off at 7 p.m. today at Rock Staubus Gymnasium, with the winner moving on to Wednesday’s 1:15 p.m. quarterfinal at The Pit in Albuquerque.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to go on and be part of the playoffs,” third-year Tigers coach John Madden said. “We’re not crying about being the 12th seed.”
Both teams are banking on the belief that a wide-open Class 5A field means they can pull off a few upsets.
“I think it’s wide open,” Madden said. “I think anybody can beat anybody on any given night. Usually the bracket’s pretty clear cut ... but I think any team in 5A can win it right now.”
That, Isler said, includes Alamogordo. He said the Tigers operate much like District 4-5A rival Hobbs, which is seeded eighth and could face Clovis in Thursday’s semifinals.
“They have a big kid inside, (6-foot-4 Marcus) Oakley,” Isler said. “He’s a lot like the (Juhreece) Thompson kid from Hobbs. He’s big, he’s physical. If he catches the ball inside the block, he’s about impossible to stop.”
Point guard Travis Geiger, the MVP of District 3-5A, is averaging 18 points and three rebounds a game for the Tigers. Isler expects Geiger to push the ball most of the night, and has told his players to expect 32 minutes of a fight.
“I think the kids understand the pressure that goes along with these games,” Isler said. “We’ve used the pressure to get mentally ready to play, instead of letting it get to us.”
Alamogordo (18-9) at Clovis (19-9)
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Radio: KCLV-AM 1240, KICA-FM 98.3, KTQM 99.9.
Alamogordo players to watch: Travis Geiger, Sr., 6-1, PG (6-1, 18 ppg, 3 rpg), Marcus Oakley, Sr., 6-4, C (12 ppg, 7 rpg).
How they got here: Clovis has won six straight games, most recently Saturday’s 54-49 District 4-5A title game at Hobbs, to claim Class 5A’s No. 5 seed. The Tigers have three losses in their last five games — to Onate (twice) and Mayfield — by a combined eight points.
Common opponents: The Wildcats and Tigers have had five common opponents: Gallup, Farmington, Carlsbad, Goddard and Hobbs. In those games, Alamogordo is 3-3. Clovis is 7-2.
Go figure — Senior post Jaye Crockett needs 13 points to pass Jaden Isler as Clovis’ No. 2 career scorer. He is 68 points behind all-time leader Bubba Jennings (1,525).