The Goddard Rockets are a lot more adept at handling the pressure of Class 5A basketball this season.
But then again, the Clovis Wildcats believe they are too, and they showed it with a dominant third quarter en route to a 73-50 win on Saturday night at Rock Staubus Gym.
Lathan Lieb scored a game-high 19 points for Clovis, which got scoring from 11 players and never trailed the Class 4A Rockets.
It wasn’t the 72-36 rout Clovis got last year over the Rockets, with Goddard showing improvements.
“We’ve got better skill players this year, we’ve got a little bit more size and it shows,” Goddard coach Kevin Jones said. “But Clovis is good. They’ve got a good chance to go for it all.”
Jones was impressed by the defensive pressure the Wildcats applied, which contributed to a 26-turnover night for the Rockets (10-8).
“They were a lot bigger last year, and they’re a lot quicker this year,” Clovis senior guard Tucker Martin said. “I think we’re the same way, and I think we can run with anybody in the state.”
The Wildcats (17-2) threw several different defensive looks at Goddard, including a 3-2 zone that seemed to rattle the Rockets to start the second quarter.
Jones, whose team hosts Hobbs Tuesday night, said the turnovers are more of a key against Clovis because of the Wildcats’ transition ability.
The Rockets kept things close until the Wildcats took control with a 7-2 run to open the second half. Goddard never got within single digits after that.
Though it turned out to be a comfortable win, Clovis coach J.D. Isler said Goddard made the Wildcats work for baskets. He said things could have been different if the Rockets kept their turnovers down and avoided the rough third quarter.
“It was good for us,” Isler said. “You can’t stay sharp and get better if you don’t have to battle.”
Lane Vanderholst had 16 points and Chase Salazar hit three 3-pointers en route to 15 for the Rockets.
Sophomore guards John Dawson and D.J. Blackmon each scored 11 for Clovis, which travels to Artesia on Tuesday for its only game next week.
After that, Clovis travels to Lovington Feb. 1 and opens District 4-5A play Feb. 4 at Hobbs.
“We just have to come play every night, not let the trip affect us and do what we’re doing in practice,” Martin said.