The Clovis Wildcats may have fallen two points short of being the best team in New Mexico Class 5A in 2008, but spent 31 games cementing themselves as one of the best teams in school history.
Clovis started the season with a school-record 25-game win streak, and the 73-71 title-game loss to rival Hobbs on March 15 finished off the winningest season in school history at 29-2.
“I think it would have to rank somewhere in the top three (seasons in Clovis history),” Wildcats coach J.D. Isler said. “Obviously if you can win a state championship, that’s the ultimate.”
That’s about the only thing Clovis didn’t do. The senior-laden Wildcats, coming off a state runner-up football finish, compiled a streak that silenced any doubters.
“Our seven seniors made sure we paid attention to details in practice,” Isler said. “They made sure we didn’t overlook anybody, and they were ready to play each game.”
Point guard Jaden Isler ended up as Clovis’ No. 2 scorer in team history with 1,469 points, and backcourt mate Bryce Hill finished No. 3 with 1,315 points and a school-record 222 3-pointers.
But the younger Isler said Clovis’ success wasn’t about the numbers.
“This group, ever since we were about ninth-graders, this group’s been close,” he said. “You’ve been together that long, you’re bound to have chemistry when you’re seniors.”
The team’s longtime bond erased any concerns over who got points, as long as the team was getting wins.
“I think the unselfishness of the boys, just the attitude they were going to put the team first, regardless of their roles,” coach Isler said. “I can’t say enough about that. Everybody had a specific role. They accepted it, they did it and they didn’t care about who got the credit.”
Senior post Jordan Mendoza thought one of the non-seniors was the biggest reason for the upswing.
“Honestly, I’d say it was Jaye Crockett,” Mendoza said. “He came up from the JV and he really contributed. He and Layne (Strebeck) worked really well together in the post.”
Crockett, District 4-5A’s Newcomer of the Year, led Clovis in scoring and rebounding, with 20.9 points and 10 rebounds per contest.
Crockett will be expected to be one of next season’s big contributors, and Clovis coaches are hoping for contributions from guard Tanner Adams, who led the Clovis junior varsity in scoring and rebounding.
But any success the Wildcats have in 2008-09 starts with what their seven seniors accomplished in 2007-08.
“I think they’ve given our underclassmen a standard, not just on the court, but off the court, how you represent Clovis High School,” coach isler said. “I don’t know if we’ll replicate the season, but they left their legacy for us to measure ourselves against.”