Clovis junior forward Jaye Crockett goes up for two against Cibola’s Steven Serock during the fourth quarter of Friday’s Milk Cow Classic semifinal at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. Crockett had 19 points in Clovis’ 73-70 win.
Clovis senior guard Manuel Robles drives for a layup in the first half of Friday’s Milk Cow Classic semifinal against Cibola. Robles had two points in Clovis’ 73-70 victory. The Wildcats play Los Lunas tonight in the 7:30 p.m. championship.
Manuel Robles started it on the floor, and Jaye Crockett finished it above the rim.
The play sparked a two-minute stretch to help the Clovis Wildcats pull a 73-70 win in its Milk Cow Classic semifinal over Cibola Friday night at Rock Stabus Gymnasium.
Clovis (8-0) hosts Los Lunas in the 7:30 p.m. championship, and Cibola takes on St. Michael’s in the third-place game.
The Cougars (5-4), ranked No. 3 in Class 5A, looked every bit up to the task against the No. 2 Wildcats and held the lead throughout most of the game.
That is, before Crockett and Robles double-teamed Cibola senior Dustin Westby and knocked the ball loose with 6:50 to go.
“I just wanted to pressure the ball and Jaye was there,” said Robles, a 5-foot-9 senior guard. “He ended up knocking the ball away and I just went for it.”
Robles chased down the ball to the free-throw line and threw a sidearm pass to Crockett. The one-handed flush gave Crockett two of his 19 points, tied the score at 53 and sparked a 12-2 run over 1:58 that gave Clovis the lead for good.
Clovis coach J.D. Isler pointed to that play as a big turning point. But he noted other contributions across the board, like Bryce Hill (18 points) hitting two 3-pointers in the run, Jaden Isler (game-high 24 points) getting penetration throughout the second half and Layne Strebeck doing the little plays to keep possessions alive.
“You could go down the line,” J.D. Isler said, “and they all contributed.”
They needed the contributions against a balanced Cougar team that put four players in double figures, led by Erik Sparks’ 14.
But it was getting to the line where the Cougars fell short. The Cougars shot nine free throws all night, while Clovis hit 21 of its 30 attempts.
“We’ve got to get to the free throw line,” Cibola coach Ray Ramirez said. “We shoot the ball pretty well, but we settled for 3s.”
Isler felt the frenetic pace had something to do with that, and he felt it wore the Cougars down when they needed energy the most — on the last possession, where a pair of potential game-tying 3-pointer rimmed out.
It was the Wildcats’ second win by three points or less this season, and most of their wins have been closer to Thursday’s 91-38 blowout over Santa Fe High.
“You never know how you’re going to react when you really are tested,” Isler said. “We want to play those kind of teams, because that’s how you get better. That’s how you get ready for the playoffs.”
Robles knows the playoffs are ahead, but he’s happy in the here and the now — still undefeated, and looking for a championship on the home floor.
“I just thought we didn’t want to lose at home” Robles said. “We had more heart and we stayed in better shape.”