Cats roll to win over Cavemen

CNJ staff

CARLSBAD — For a couple of minutes, at least, it must have seemed like “here we go again” for the Clovis High boys basketball team.

Lowly Carlsbad, which has given the Wildcats trouble on its home floor in the recent past, grabbed a 5-0 lead in the first couple of minutes in Tuesday’s District 4-5A encounter. But the Cats quickly righted themselves and went on to a 77-52 victory.

Sophomore guards Jaden Isler and Bryce Hill each hit four of Clovis’ season-high 11 3-pointers. Isler finished with 24 points and Hill added 16, while senior guard Cody Thornsbury added two 3-pointers and 10 points.

“Once we came back (from the early deficit), we really started playing well,” CHS boys coach J.D. Isler said. “We had a great second quarter, and it was nice to watch.”

Hill and Jaden Isler each had three 3-pointers in that period as the Cats (15-6, 2-0 district) outscored the Cavemen 25-13 to open a 20-point halftime cushion. The margin reached 28 at one point during the third quarter.

“We settled down and started playing,” coach Isler said. “Devin (Sweet) and Rishard Matthews were really active on the boards; they were getting every rebound.

“Once we starting holding them to one shot, it really made a big difference.”

The Cats struggled a bit in the final period, coach Isler said, but maintained a commanding margin on the strength of 9-of-10 free throw shooting in the period.

He credited Thornsbury with solid defense on Carlsbad senior guard Alex Bustos, who finished with just six points.
“Cody did a great job on Bustos,” Isler said. “He denied Bustos the ball most of the night.”

Senior guard Josh Miller scored 17 points for the Cavemen (8-16, 0-2). Junior guard Zack Mendez also reached double figures with 12 points.

Clovis plays its final regular-season non-district game on Friday when it hosts Roswell High at Rock Staubus Gym. The Coyotes (19-5) started the year 0-3 before winning 16 in a row capped by an 84-69 win over the Cats in Roswell on Jan. 19.

They then lost their next two games at Lovington and at Carlsbad, but have since won three in a row, including an 87-56 drubbing of Artesia at home on Tuesday night.

“We’re looking forward to playing them,” coach Isler said. “I think we’ll play them well.”