Clovis stops Sandia in district tourney

Clovis’ John Props scores two of his 15 points during Tuesday’s District 4-5A tournament game at Rock Staubus Gym. Sandia’s Drew Hawk reacts too late. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

With its big men out of the game and the season on the line, Clovis adjusted well enough to beat Sandia 77-67 in the quarterfinals of the District 4-5A tournament on Tuesday at Rock Staubus Gym.

Senior guard John Props scored 15 points and junior Devin Sweet matched that total off the bench.

“Our bench just came in and just really gave us a lift,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said. “Devin Sweet played probably the best minutes he has all year.”

The Wildcats travel to Hobbs for the semifinal game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Senior post Tigg Bunton had to sit much of the game with foul trouble and senior post Dominique Easterlin was hobbled by an ankle injury and played sparingly after the first quarter.

Not that the 6-foot-8 Bunton didn’t make his presence felt on the floor. He scored seven of his 18 points in a decisive run early in the fourth quarter that turned a one-point deficit into a 59-49 lead.

Sweet added a pair of buckets in the run, including a layup off a Bunton feed. Sandia (15-10) never got closer than five points the rest of the way as Clovis hit 15 of 20 free throws in the fourth quarter, including a perfect 8 for 8 effort by senior guard Jacob Jones.

“Without Tigg, we don’t really have that much size inside, so we’d rather hit the outside shot, so we just kind of slow it down and run set plays instead of run and gun like we usually do,” Sweet said.

“It was really a team win,” Isler said. “We did all the things we needed to.”

Sandia struggled against Clovis’ full-court press, forcing the ball out of junior point guard David Kanyinda’s hands.

Kanyinda finished with a game-high 26 points, many on wide-open jumpers off the fast break.

“I just don’t think they were very comfortable handling the ball. They’re not bad when 10 (Kanyinda) has the ball one-on-one, but when you double him and make him give it up, they make poor decisions,” Isler said.