Clovis senior Bryce Hill secures control of the ball during the second half of Tuesday’s game against Amarillo High at The Rock.
Suffice it to say, the transition from football to basketball was a relatively smooth one Tuesday night for the Clovis High boys.
With nine of their top 10 players only four days removed from Friday’s heartbreaking 49-48 loss to Mayfield in double overtime in the Class 5A state football championship at Leon Williams Stadium, the Wildcats wasted no time jumping all over Amarillo High in a season-opening 67-33 basketball victory at Rock Staubus Gym.
Senior guard Bryce Hill went 5-of-7 from 3-point range and finished with 17 points for the Cats, while senior guard Jaden Isler and junior guard Jaye Crockett — the one player not involved in football — added 16 apiece.
“I think it was great,” said Crockett, who saw only limited varsity minutes a year ago. “We came out and played hard.”
Crockett, who shot 8-for-11 from the floor and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, said he wasn’t nervous about the quick turnaround for his teammates.
“We played a lot together this summer,” he said. “That’s when you get all the butterflies out.
“We just wanted to play hard. They (Sandies) had already played 11 games, so they were a little more in basketball shape.”
Senior Trevor Holloway’s basket pulled the Sandies (4-8) into an early 2-2 tie, but Clovis then went on a 9-0 run that featured two 3-pointers by Isler. A trifecta by Hill made it 25-8 midway through the second period before the Cats settled for a 31-20 halftime lead.
Clovis put together an 18-0 run bridging the final two quarters to turn the game into a complete runaway.
“We made quite a few mistakes, but we really played with a lot of effort,” CHS coach J.D. Isler said. “That’s going to have to carry us for a while.”
The Cats shot 56 percent for the game (29-of-52), including 7-of-14 on 3-pointers. Meantime, their aggressive defense — often using the 6-foot-6 Crockett and 6-4 Layne Strebeck in the front — harassed the Sandies into 29 turnovers while allowing them to shoot only 11-of-34 from the field.
“Amarillo High is usually big and physical,” coach Isler said. “They weren’t quite as big as they’ve been, but they were still physical.
“The turnovers hurt them early. I knew we’d have some turnovers (16), but I kind of went into the game with the mindset that I wasn’t going to get upset because I knew we’d have them.”
No run reached double figures for Amarillo High. The Sandies were led by eight points from junior guard Amer Abdullat.
Clovis faces a quick turnaround, playing El Paso Burgess in a 1 p.m. quarterfinal game of the City of Champions Classic on Thursday in Artesia, a tournament they won last year.
Coach Isler said he doesn’t know anything about Burgess.
“We’re just trying to worry about doing some things better and working on making the team better,” he said. “Who we play isn’t as important right now.”