Falling leaves and oncoming rains in late November signifies one thing: It’s high school basketball season.
The 2019-20 season started Tuesday night for the Clovis High Cougars, who lost 63-49 to visiting SoCal power Tesoro High.
Clovis head coach John Heinz knew the challenge his team faced in their first game of the season.
“[Tesoro] is a well-oiled machine,” Heinz said. “They’ve got seniors, and they’re disciplined and well-coached by [head coach] Steve [Garrett].”
Tesoro went on two separate 7-0 runs in the first quarter – offsetting a trio of Clovis three pointers – to give the Titans a 16-11 first quarter lead.
In the second quarter, Tesoro tightened up its defense while staying hot from beyond the arc, leading to a 16-2 run.
It added up to a 38-22 Titans halftime lead.
Clovis showed fight after the break. Point guard Cal Stilson scored four points to spearhead a third quarter Cougar charge trimming the deficit down to 12.
Yet Tosoro would put the final nail in the coffin soon after.
The Titans went on a 14-2 run into the fourth quarter to seal the rout and spoil the festivities.
Heinz felt the score was indicative of the turnover trouble his Cougars team had against a full-court Titans defense.
“It ended up being a fourteen-point game, but really, we gave them easy opportunities that they made in transition,” Heinz said “That game would have been a grinder in the mid-50s if we took better care of the ball.”
Despite the struggles with turnovers, Clovis High had two players hit double-digits scoring; Guards Gurkirat Singh and Ashlan Morris combined for six three-pointers, with each tallying 11 points.
Not to be outdone, Tesoro had four players hit double-digit scoring, including three who led the team with 15 points each: Titans guards Matt DeAngelo, Mike Mahlen and Kyle Ritscher.
It was an overall team effort offensively and defensively from the visiting Tesoro Titans from Rancho Santa Margarita, who improved to 4-1 on the season.
For the Clovis Cougars, Tuesday’s season-opening loss was a learning lesson.
“This is the first game, so it’s a learning process,” said Heinz. “You don’t get these games [to learn] often, so we want to have these games early in order to be prepared later on.”
Clovis High (0-1) will travel to Visalia next Monday night, where they will play the El Diamante Miners.