Cats to begin march toward respectability

By Dave Wagner
Sports writer
dwagner@cnjonline.com
CLOVIS — Scott Robinson knew the sledding could be a bit tough for a while when he assumed Clovis High boys basketball coaching duties two years ago.

Staff photo: Tony Bullocks Clovis High junior guard Nate Lewis, front, battles to keep the ball from senior forward Leroy Wilson during a drill last week at Wildcats practice at Rock Staubus Gym. The Cats open the season on Saturday night at defending Class 6A state champion Rio Rancho.

Staff photo: Tony Bullocks
Clovis High junior guard Nate Lewis, front, battles to keep the ball from senior forward Leroy Wilson during a drill last week at Wildcats practice at Rock Staubus Gym. The Cats open the season on Saturday night at defending Class 6A state champion Rio Rancho.

That said, it’s been a really rough wide for the Wildcats, who are 8-44 in those two seasons, including 3-22 last year. Still, Robinson thinks the Cats are starting to head in the right direction, and have an ultimate goal at some point of winning a district title and competition for a Class 6A state championship.

On paper, they couldn’t have a much tougher draw in their bid to turn things around, opening the season on Saturday with a 7 p.m. tipoff at defending Class 6A state champion Rio Rancho. A number of tough games follow before the team enters District 2-6A play in mid-January.

“It’s been a tough stretch,” said Robinson, a 1988 CHS grad who has been on the coaching staff since 2001. “But I’m looking forward to (this season). I’m excited about what we can accomplish.

“Our goals for this year are to be competitive night in and night out. We want to play .500 or better basketball. If we can do that, the other things will take care of themselves.”

Two starters return in senior guard Taitt Kuchta and junior guard Jakeem Wynn, the leading returning scorer from last season at 8.0 ppg.

“They’re going to be key components for us this year,” Robinson said. “Both of them are versatile and can play any of the (four) guard positions.”

Wynn said he is ready for the challenge.

“It’s going to be tough, but we’re more athletic than we were last year,” the 6-foot Wynn said. “Everybody really worked hard in the weight room this off-season, and we played a lot of AAU ball this summer.

“I think I’ve improved a lot this summer, working on my jump shot and being quicker and more explosive. The big thing is I have to be more of a leader.”

Most of the rest of the squad has little varsity experience. Inside, juniors Isaiah Knight (6-feet-5) and Jonathan Williams (6-4) will be asked to carry much of the load, while others competing for time are seniors Sebastian Roanhaus, Ethan Davis and Leroy Wilson.

Backcourt candidates include senior D’ondre Dawson, junior Brandon Romero and sophomore Dominick Urioste.

Even with the inexperience, Robinson said the Cats should at least have more bodies to compete with this season.

“I feel like we have some depth this year, which will help us,” he said. “I feel like we’re deeper than we’ve been in the last three years.”

As with most CHS squads, the Cats’ schedule looks a lot different with six-team District 2-6A replacing the former District 3 which for years included CHS, Hobbs and Carlsbad.

Clovis still has a home game against the defending 6A runnerup Cavemen on Dec. 6, and will play Hobbs home-and-home in a six-day span early in January.

“It’s going to be different from my last two years,” Wynn said. “We’re just going to have to be mentally tough.
“I want to put Clovis back on the map and into the state tournament.”

Robinson said the addition of Lonnie Baca to the staff has helped. Baca replaces Casey Pack, who accepted the job as Lovington boys head coach in the offseason.

Roster
No., name    Ht.    Pos.    Yr.
2 D’ondre Dawson    5-6    G    Sr.
4 Sebastian Roanhaus    6-2    F    Sr.
10 Jacob Moon    5-8    G    So.
11 Nate Lewis    5-10    G    Jr.
12 Brandon Romero    5-10    G    Jr.
20 Dominick Urioste    5-11    G    So.
21 Taitt Kuchta    6-1    G    Sr.
22 Jakeem Wynn    6-0    G    Jr.
25 Leroy Wilson    6-3    F    Sr.
30 Alex Santarosa    6-2    F    Sr.
32 Ethan Davis    6-2    F    Sr.
42 Isaiah Knight    6-5    C    Jr.
44 Jonathan Williams    6-4    C    Jr.
Coach: Scott Robinson (3rd year). Assistant coaches: Lonnie Baca, Mark Sena, Scott Schumpert.

Schedule
November
26 — at Rio Rancho, 6 p.m.; 29 — Dumas, 6:30 p.m.
December
3 — at Rio Rancho Cleveland, 7 p.m.; 6 — Carlsbad, 7 p.m.; 8-10 — at Albuquerque Academy tournament; 16 — at Borger, 6:30 p.m.; 20 — Portales, 7 p.m.; 28-30 — Griego & Sons Holiday Classic.
January
5 — at Roswell High, 7 p.m.; 7 — at Hobbs, 7 p.m.; 10 — Roswell Goddard, 7 p.m.; 12 — Hobbs, 7 p.m.; 17 — Eldorado, 7 p.m.-x; 21 — Manzano, 6:30 p.m.-x; 24 — at Santa Fe High, 7 p.m.-x; 28 — at Sandia, 6:30 p.m.-x; 31 — La Cueva, 7 p.m.-x.
February
4 — at Eldorado, 6:30 p.m.-x; 7 — at Manzano, 7 p.m.-x; 11 — Santa Fe High, 6:30 p.m.-x; 14 — Sandia, 7 p.m.-x; 18 — at La Cueva, 6:30 p.m.-x.
All Times MST. x-Denotes District 2-6A games.