When everybody scores and everybody rebounds, basketball’s a pretty easy sport.
The Clovis Wildcats got plenty of both, and took control early for an 82-53 win over El Paso Cathedral in Wednesday’s Southwest Dairy Farmers Classic semifinal tilt at Rock Staubus Gym.
Clovis (10-1), winners of four straight, will face Amarillo Tascosa in the championship game. The Rebels rallied to defeat St. Michael’s 39-35 in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
Lathan Lieb led a balanced effort with 21 points, as eight Wildcats entered the scoring column.
D.J. Blackmon had 20 and Craig Cook had 17 for Clovis, and both led the charge on the glass. Clovis outrebounded the visiting Irish 34-17 on the boards, including a 15-5 advantage on the offensive glass.
“D.J. Blackmon was all over the glass tonight, and I thought Craig Cook had a really good rebounding game too,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said. “John John (Dawson), I think, really dished the ball well tonight, probably had his best game of the year as far as getting people open shots.”
Dawson, who scored six points, said it was easy with the way his teammates were hitting shots. The Wildcats shot 56 percent on the night, and might have shot more if the Irish didn’t foul to stop easy putback attempts.
“Everybody was on their game; it seemed like nobody could be stopped,” Dawson said. “If you stopped one guy, you (wouldn’t be able to) stop another.”
It wasn’t so easy for El Paso Cathedral, which fell behind early by going more than 7 1/2 minutes without a field goal as Clovis rolled out a 23-11 lead early in the second.
A glut of early foul calls knocked out the rhythm for the Irish, coach Omar Duran said. But no factor was nearly as big as Clovis’ height advantage.
“They’ve got a lot of height, they got great positioning and came up with some easy baskets,” Duran said. “Their size and their length was what made the difference in the game.”
It made a difference on interior defense as well. The Irish had to settle for perimeter shots, and actually hit more shots from beyond the arc (10) than inside it (six).
Gustavo Flore hit six of the 3-pointers for a team-high 20 points, and Mason Zuniga added 17 for the Irish, who will face St. Michael’s in the 4:20 p.m. third-place tilt.
Dawson said he has played AAU basketball with a few Tascosa players, and said while they have the advantage over the Wildcats in talent, it’s not an edge that Clovis can’t overcome — provided they play with discipline and intelligence.
Isler expected St. Michael’s to be Clovis’ championship opponent after entering the third period with a 29-20 lead. But the Horsemen came out flat and scored just six second-half points, and Tascosa took advantage in transition.
“They’re extremely athletic,” Isler said. “They’ve got some good players inside. We’ve got to find a way to handle their big guys. It should be a good championship game.”