On a day where New Mexico teams had mostly withstood Arizona’s challenges, Corey Hawkins’ proved too much for the Clovis Wildcats.
The senior guard scored 40 points, helping Estrella Foothills close out Friday’s slate of New Mexico/Arizona Challenge games with a 73-57 win at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.
Hawkins, a 6-foot-3 guard who has signed with Arizona State, scored 12 of the defending Arizona Division 3A Wolves’ first 17 points, and scored 10 straight during a 15-0 second-half run to close the door early on the Wildcats (7-5).
Teamed with his brother, freshman Devon, the sons of former NBA All-Star Hersey Hawkins accounted for 50 points. But it was guard James Pierce, or the lack thereof, that coach Ty Amundsen said was the key.
Pierce, who scored five points, got in early foul trouble, and the Wolves had 13 first-half turnovers with him planted on the bench.
“There were a lot of things (getting called) on both sides,” Amundsen said. “We needed some time to feel things out. James had three fouls in the first quarter, which has never happened. Never.”
With Pierce back in the lineup in the second half, the Wolves (15-1) had just six turnovers and pushed the lead as high as 22 before Clovis rallied to make matters respectable in the fourth quarter.
“We had to pull off our press, not because of anything they did, but because we were in foul trouble,” Amundsen said of the 15-0 burst to start the third. “We said, ‘We’re just going to play half-court defense.’ Clovis got a little stagnant, and we were able to keep scoring.”
Clovis coach J.D. Isler said the Wildcats played right into the Wolves’ hands. Isler said the team talked pre-game about establishing an inside presence to neutralize the Hawkins-led backcourt, but senior post Logan Turnbow finished with eight points and didn’t attempt a field goal in the first half.
“We weren’t too good at getting our posts the ball,” Isler said of the Wildcats, who finished with 29 turnovers. “When we did, we let them get a lot of hands on the ball.”
Deven Crockett scored 18 to lead Clovis, while Marcus Slocum added 16. Troy Coleman added 11 for the Wolves.