SANTA FE — For the second day in a row, the Clovis High boys got off to a slow start.
This time, though, it wasn’t a 19-point, first-quarter deficit the way it was in Thursday’s quarterfinal overtime win over Volcano Vista in the Capital City Invitational.
Down 9-4 early, the Wildcats rallied to take the lead by halftime, then held it for all but a brief moment in the second half en route to a 69-54 semifinal win over Valley.
The Cats (4-0) take on Santa Fe High (3-4) in today’s 6:30 p.m. championship clash. The Demons edged city rival St. Michael's 46-45 Friday night on a last-second 3-pointer.
“We started slow again,” CHS assistant Scott Robinson said. “We got the momentum and carried that over into the second half.
Senior Lathan Lieb had four 3-pointers and 24 points for CHS, while sophomore D.J. Blackmon added 15 points and senior Craig Cook scored 10.
Clovis led 46-44 going into the final period, but outscored the Vikings 23-10 keyed by pressure defense which forced numerous Valley turnovers.
Valley (4-2) rallied from a 30-26 halftime deficit to lead 38-36 midway through the third stanza, but the Cats quickly regained the lead. Then Lieb hit a 3-pointer and Clovis converted a couple of steals into layups in the final period to pull away.
Lieb had a relatively quiet first half with eight points, but came alive for 16 tallies in the final two segments.
Robinson said Cook has had a strong all-around tournament so far for the team.
“He’s put together two good games up here,” Robinson said. “He’s been a clutch player for us.”
Mario Flores scored 20 points for the Vikings, but no one else reached double figures for Valley.