On a night where basketball briefly took a back seat, the Clovis Wildcats veered back into the win column.
Logan Turnbow scored 12 points to lead a balanced effort, and the Wildcats snapped a three-game skid with a 65-51 triumph over Rio Rancho Cleveland Saturday night.
Deven Crockett and Marcus Slocum each added 10 for Clovis (8-7), which led by as many as 23 in the first half and recovered from a slow start after halftime, when freshman guard D.J. Blackmon collapsed on the floor and was carried off in a stretcher.
Clovis coach J.D. Isler said early indications from the hospital were that Blackmon, who took a blow and left briefly with a bloody nose in the first quarter, may have suffered from dehydration.
Cleveland scored three of the first four third-quarter baskets against a still-shocked Wildcat squad.
“We just seemed to come out a little unfocused,” Isler said, “but that’s understandable. They were worried about their teammate, and so am I.”
Clovis got a driving layup from Slocum and a three-point play from Kyler Brewer Hill to push the lead back above 20, extinguishing any hopes the Storm (9-9) had of a comeback.
“It was tough having that happen,” said Clovis guard John Dawson, who added seven points. “But we said we’ve got to do this for the team, and for D.J.”
Cleveland coach Brian Smith felt his team just didn’t click early, missing its first five shots from the field as the Wildcats jumped out to a 15-2 lead.
“We had opportunities to score, and we didn’t take advantage,” Smith said. “We had guys dribbling off their legs, airballing free throws and missing layups.”
Isler was happy with the team’s intensity on defense and the offensive presence of Slocum, who scored 10 of his points in the first half on a variety of aggressive dirves.
“I thought Marcus really got to the basket a lot early, and that helped us.”
P.J. Horgan scored 12 to lead Cleveland, a first-year program with no seniors on the roster. The Storm travel to Cibola Wednesday.
The Wildcats are back in action Friday when they host Espanola Valley, top-ranked in Class 4A and winners of eight consecutive heading into Saturday’s game against Albuquerque High.
“Life doesn’t get any easier,” Isler said. “We’ll be battle-tested once things start going (in district).”