Clovis guard Manuel Robles protects the ball from Canyon defender Shaun Lawson on a layup attempt in the first half of Tuesday’s game at Rock Stabus Gymnasium.
Clovis post Jaye Crockett finishes off a lob pass from Jaden Isler in the third quarter of Tuesday’s game against Canyon.
Jaye Crockett looked and saw Jaden Isler. Isler looked back and saw Crockett. The Clovis Wildcats never looked back.
The two combined for 35 points and a game-changing lob pass, as the Clovis Wildcats turned a close first half into a 74-44 thumping of the Canyon Eagles.
Winners of its first 12 games, Clovis controlled the first half without dominating, then took over in the third quarter, holding the visiting Eagles (9-9) without a field goal in a 22-6 period.
“I thought they kind of shifted it into a gear in the second half that we didn’t have,” Canyon coach Mike Scarbrough said.
Part of that extra gear involved breaking down the zone with nine 3-pointers — eight by senior Bryce Hill for a game-high 26 points.
The second part became the inside game that flourished once Hill’s outside shooting forced the Eagles to extend their zone defense.
“They were guarding the posts pretty good, but it opened up our shooters,” Crockett said of the zone. “When we started making those outside shots, that opened it up for the posts.”
No example was more dramatic than Crockett’s second dunk of the night, as he finished off a 3-on-2 break with a two-handed flush off a baseline lob from Isler.
Crockett, who had 15 points, said he’s feeling a comfort level with the varsity after spending most of last season on junior varsity.
“As long as me and Jaden make eye contact, there’s a dunk,” Crockett said. “That’s what I look forward to most, except for going out and winning.”
Clovis has been doing that early in the season, with second-half runs to close out its opponents.
“I thought early in the third quarter, we did what we didn’t do in the first half — turn it over,” Scarbrough said. “No. 3 (Hill) started to hit some shots. (That) made us extend our zone, which we didn’t want to do because they were a lot quicker.”
Blake Nusser led the Eagles with 11 points, but didn’t have much help, as no teammate notched more than six. Clovis, meanwhile, had four in double figures, including Jaden Isler with 20 and Layne Strebeck with 10.
Clovis coach J.D. Isler credited the win to the bench playing big third-quarter minutes when three starters were in foul trouble, and to Strebeck for giving the Wildcats a fourth weapon on offense.
“I thought our guards got a little tentative and were looking inside (in the first half),” coach Isler said. “I said, ‘You guys shoot well enough. Take them when you have them.’ The secret to beating any zone is, you’ve got to have perimeter shooters.”