in Boys Basketball

Coming off a dominating District 17-3A win over Waco Harmony School of Innovation, the Clifton Cubs face key matchups with Keene & Grandview to wrap up first round

As expected, the District 17-3A boys basketball race continues to shape up into a six-team battle with any team capable of winning on any given night. With that being said, the Clifton Cubs find themselves facing two crucial matchups this week against the Keene Chargers and the Grandview Zebras as they wrap up the first round of district play.

While tuning up for these pivotal showdowns, the Cubs produced mixed results last week, losing to the Rio Vista Eagles, 63-58, in a non-district game on the road last Tuesday before crushing the Waco Harmony School of Innovation, 66-3, in a district game at home last Friday night.

“Of course, we would have liked to gotten two wins last week,” Clifton boys basketball head coach Tom Daniel said. “But we were able to work on some things we needed to work on. And we had an opportunity to get a lot of different guys some playing time. That will make us better for these big games this week.”

Clifton (2-2 in district, 8-12 overall) surged to an overwhelming 24-3 advantage in the first period, then shut out Harmony (0-5, 0-11) for the last three quarters as the Cubs posted a dominating victory. Junior Andres Devora and sophomore Brody Baggett led the Cubs with 12 point apiece, followed by sophomore Kyle Rogers with eight, as well as sophomores Ray Ochoa and Diego Rodriguez with six each.

But last Tuesday, Rio Vista jumped out to an early 16-9 first period lead and built a nine-point advantage by halftime. The Cubs battled back by outscoring the Eagles, 20-12 in the third to pull within one, but Rio Vista responded in the fourth to hold off Clifton. Junior Jacob Wells led the Cubs with 21 points, followed by  Devora with 15, sophomore Joaquin De la Hoya with eight and Baggett with six.

As the Cubs approach the end of district’s first round, Clifton will play host to second place Keene (3-1, 19-6) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday before traveling to Grandview to take on the Zebras (2-2, 15-10) in what could be a battle for second place Friday at 7:30 p.m. Currently, the Whitney Wildcats enjoy a slim lead (4-1, 15-9) over the Maypearl Panthers (3-1, 15-11) and Keene for the district’s top spot.

 “It’s still anybody’s guess,” Daniel said. “We’ll have a better idea after this week when we’re at the halfway point. The top six teams are so close in our district. It’s pretty wild.”

Following a disappointing 61-55 loss to the Whitney Wildcats at home Jan. 3, the Cubs bounced back to knock off the West Trojans, 60-52, on the road Jan. 6 to fight their way back into the district race conversation.

“We needed that one,” Daniel said. “That was really a must-win for us, and it was good to get a road win too. It was good to finish the game out the way we did.”

Clifton enjoyed a slim 29-26 halftime lead against West, but the Trojans rallied in the third. With the Cubs down by three late in the third quarter, Wells hit a three-pointer to tie the game going into the final frame. Then the Cubs went on an 18-4 run to start the fourth quarter to take control of the game. In the crucial win over West, Devora led the Cubs with 19 points, followed by sophomore Ray Ochoa with 12 and sophomore Joaquin De la Hoya with 10.

Coming out of the Christmas break with 13 days between games, the Cubs struggled early against Whitney. After the Wildcats built a five-point advantage before intermission, Whitney outscored Clifton, 22-12, in the third to open up a comfortable 50-35 lead. Even though the Cubs put up 20 points in the fourth quarter, it proved to be too little, too late. Against Whitney, Devora led Clifton with 18 points, followed by Wells with 12 and Baggett with seven.

“I thought we played okay against Whitney,” Daniel said. “We dug ourselves a little bit too big of a hole. We were down by 15 and got it to four late. But we didn’t get enough stops in the third quarter when we needed to, so they were able to extend that lead out. Whitney is a good team. But the good news is we get to play them again in a few weeks.”


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