Cats cruise to easy win over Artesia

Clovis High junior Bryce Hill drives to the basket during Friday night’s game against Artesia at Rock Staubus Gym. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Greg Price: CNJ sports writer

The Clovis Wildcats put on an offensive exhibition in their last non-district game, defeating Artesia 94-70 Friday night at Rock Staubus Gym.

Junior Bryce Hill and senior Michael Lewis each scored 22 points and junior Jaden Isler added 20 points as Clovis scored more than 90 points for the fourth time this season.

“We really came out and attacked them well — I mean everybody came out and attacked the basket,” Clovis junior Layne Strebeck said. “Forced a lot of turnovers too, but we really attacked them.”

Clovis exploited Artesia’s man-to-man defense for 55 first-half points and forced numerous turnovers while routing the Class 4A Bulldogs for the second time this season.

“We had the tempo really going our way and they ran with us, but they got pretty tired,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said. “If you’re not use to practicing that way, and playing at that speed, you can’t do it for four quarters.”

The Wildcats (17-2) open District 4-5A play Friday at Hobbs.

Sophomore Derek Montoya led the Bulldogs (14-6) with 22 points. Also, 6-foot-5 junior Landry Jones scored 17 points, but suffered from early foul trouble and fatigue.

“They just shoot the ball better than we do,” Artesia coach Ike Montoya said. “We didn’t make good decisions and if you do that, they make you pay.”

Clovis raced out to a 45-28 lead late in the second quarter on senior Cody Thornsbury’s 3-pointer.

Senior Larry Brigance scored three straight baskets for the Bulldogs, including two putbacks and a driving hook shot, cutting Clovis’ lead to 55-38 going into the half.
However, Clovis reestablished its dominance in the third quarter.

• Hill gave Clovis a a 64-42 lead early in the third quarter when he split Artesia’s defense with an up-and-under layup.

• Jaden Isler tipped a loose ball to himself and finished off a Cats’ fast break with a crisp tip pass to junior Manuel Robles for an easy layup.

• Hill came up with a steal and an easy layup and Lewis followed with a one-handed tip-in as the Cats built a 79-50 lead with under two minutes remaining.

Thornsbury added 14 points for Clovis.