Benny Munoz/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s K’Veon Jones drives to the lane to score two of his team-high 11 points in Thursday’s loss to the Clovis Cougars.
Too many missed layups and too many missed free throws curtailed the Madera Coyotes boys basketball team in a 64-48 loss to Clovis in its season opener and first game for new head coach David Lozano.
The Coyotes shot just 2-of-14 in the first quarter and fell behind 16-5 and couldn’t get back on track Thursday in Joe Flores Gym. However, Lozano said those misses shouldn’t be pointed to nervousness.
“I’ve had a lot of good experience where I’ve been,” Lozano said. “I was just trying to apply effort and attitude to these guys. I don’t think they were nervous. We missed some free throws and layups, but those are fixable things. They played hard and didn’t complain one bit.”
The Coyotes got better from the first quarter and ended up shooting 35 percent (19-of-54) from the field, including 5-of-18 (27 percent) from 3-point range. They also made just 36 percent of their free throws (8-of-22).
“We couldn’t finish layups,” Lozano said. “We would make a good drive and be right there, but couldn’t finish. We missed too many free throws and it hurts. We had certain defensive goals and we hit them, at times, but we need to have it for 32 minutes.”
The Coyotes were hurt by Clovis guards Anthony Martinez and Caleb Malalis, who combined for 31 points. They also created for big man Cooper Huyck, who added 11 points.
“Those guards are studs,” Lozano said. “They have been good for a while. They can attack the basket and create for others.”
K’Veon Jones was the only Coyote in double figures with 11 points. Only one other player had more than six points. Raelon Hill added seven, but 10 players scored.
After Clovis opened the scoring, Eli Barrios found Arthur Flores for a layup to tie the score. A Huyck bucket gave the Cougars the lead, but Alek Trukki hit a 3-pointer to give the Coyotes their only lead of the night at 5-4.
From there, Clovis went on a 12-0 run to close out the final three minutes of the first quarter for a 16-5 lead.
Barrios stopped the run with a driving bucket, but the Coyotes missed their next five straight shots. However, Clovis was just as ineffective, committing three turnovers in the first three minutes of the second quarter.
Barrios hit a pull-up jumper to end the scoring drought.
After a Clovis bucket, Jones scored on a wild shot under the basket. Jones added a layup for an 8-2 run to cut the Clovis lead to five.
Cedric Amey put back a Jones missed 3-pointer with a spinning three-footer to cut the lead to three.
Clovis scored six of the next eight points to take control of the game with a 24-17 lead. Raeshaun Hill made a free throw and the Coyotes trailed by six at the half.
The Cougars opened the second half with a 12-0 run to take the lead to 18. In the run, the Coyotes missed seven shots and committed three turnovers.
Jones stopped the run with a short jumper, but Clovis came back with a 3-pointer, Hill found Flores for a layup, but Clovis added a driving bucket.
Raelon Hill made a driving layup and Raeshaun Hill made another layup going right at Huyck, who had a seven-inch height advantage to cut the lead to 41-26.
Clovis closed the third quarter by scoring seven of the game’s next nine points to open the lead to 20.
Christian Aguilar turned a steal into two free throws. Clovis came back with a free throw and a layup, but Aguilar answered with a 3-pointer of his own.
The Cougars converted a 3-point play and scored two driving layups to open the lead to 23.
Madera got a driving layup from Raelon Hill and a free throw and a 10-foot jumper from Komari Law to get the lead down to 20.
Jesus Arzola answered two Clovis free throws with a 3-pointer, but Huyck scored on an attempted dunk attempt.
Jones showed Huyck the right way to dunk with a clean two-hander off a steal by Raeshaun Hill.
Hill added a 2-pointer, but Clovis scored on an offensive putback.
Raeshaun Hill helped close the scoring with a steal and then fed his brother, Raelon, for a layup for the 64-48 final.