Amarillo High didn’t take long to show it was better than the teams Clovis faced in last week’s Southwest Dairy Farmers Classic.
Clovis took just a little longer to show it was prepared to put up a fight, rallying from an early deficit to post a 72-60 win Tuesday night at Rock Staubus Gym.
The Wildcats (12-1), winners of six straight, took control with a 24-16 third-period run.
“We came out really flat,” said senior guard Lathan Lieb, who led three Wildcats in double figures with 27 points. “Yesterday wasn’t our greatest practice, and it carried over. We showed a lot of heart in the second half, and the first half staying in it.”
D.J. Blackmon scored 16 points on a series of drives into a forest of bigger Amarillo players, and Craig Cook scored 15 points — including a third-quarter trey that gave the Wildcats the lead for good.
“We had to fight back, we had to play more aggressive and we did it in the third quarter,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said. “That was a big quarter for us.”
It was enough to negate the hot start for the Sandies (15-6), who couldn’t protect their lead against a slight imbalance in fouls and a huge deficit from the free-throw line.
The Wildcats went 24-of-33, including a 6-of-6 possession when Sandies coach Jason Pillion and guard Ashton Tillman were each whistled for technicals.
“That was a factor,” Pillion said, noting his squad’s 9-of-19 performance from the line. “We didn’t hit the ones we got when we got there.”
After Matt Woodbury and Lieb hit the technicals, Clovis had its first double-digit lead at 60-48. Lieb’s trey on the ensuing possession to ice it.
“We hit some free throws,” Lieb said, “played good defense and we took a lot of charges.”
Actually, it was just one — when Blackmon, with a roster weight of 175, stood in the path of James Castleman, a 6-foot-4, 255 post who has committed to play football at Texas Tech next season.
“Well, a big charge,” Lieb said, noting it was Castleman’s fifth foul.
The Sandies were balanced, with 10 players scoring on the evening. But Castleman managed just 11 with his foul trouble.
“Clovis did a good job taking Castleman out of it tonight,” Pillion said. “Teams are going to do that when we get into district. We needed some guys to step up and hit shots, and they did that.”
Luke Gossett had 12 points to lead Amarillo.
Isler was pleased with how Clovis played against the Sandies, who he felt will have one of the better defenses the Wildcats will see all season.