Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016 | 9:30 p.m.
It wasn’t against Bishop Gorman, at least not yet.
But the Clark High basketball team proved Tuesday night that it is equally as dominant at the 4A level as it was at the 3A classification, where it won the last three state championships.
The Chargers routed previously undefeated Durango 71-60 in a game that was far more one-sided than the final score indicates.
James Bridges sparked the Chargers to an early lead, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to put Clark in front 20-3 in the first quarter and the Trailblazers never cut the margin to single digits.
“The guys have that winning mentality and it translates well,” Clark coach Colin Darfour said. “From things we talk about as far as adjustments in the locker room to executing it on the floor, the guys are always on the same page as the coaches, so that helps.”
The Chargers led 33-18 at halftime before junior guard Trey Woodbury took the game over.
Woodbury scored Clark’s first five buckets of the third quarter, and 12 of the team’s 18 points in the period.
“I was a little frustrated, so coming out of the locker room I knew I was going to be aggressive,” Woodbury said.
He finished with a game-high 26 points and put an exclamation point on the win with a one-handed slam-dunk early in the fourth quarter.
“Trey Woodbury does that. He’s extremely explosive. He’s deceptively fast and he’s a great athlete. He can shoot the ball too, but he didn’t have to because he got to the hole a lot.”
Bridges ended the game with 21 points and helped facilitate the ball on the offensive end for Clark.
“James is phenomenal for us,” Darfour said. “It’s not only his shooting, it’s his playmaking ability. He’s playing a lot of point guard for us. He’s definitely one of our top shooters that we want shooting the ball a lot, so we have to find a way to balance that.”
Nicquel Blake led Durango with 16 points, and sharp-shooter Demetrius Valdez was held to only eight points without a single 3-pointer, four days after putting up 37 points in a win over Desert Oasis.
Durango, which finished 17-7 last season and entered the game 3-0, had no answer for Clark’s pressure on defense.
“I don’t even think we pressured the way that I envision us playing, but we did a good job in our full-court, man-to-man defense,” Darfour said. “I don’t think the guys have gotten to the level that we want them at with our pressure. You see it in flashes. Against Bonanza our full-court pressure was suffocating.”
The Chargers not only turned Durango over with regularity, they made the Trailblazers pay by capitalizing with easy buckets on the other end.
“The energy on the defense for us is what gets us going,” Woodbury said. “It gets us on the fast break and when we get on the fast break we are at our best.”
The Chargers led by 24 points with only 1:28 to play when Darfour subbed the entire bench into the game. Durango then went on a lightning-fast 13-0 run forcing the starters back in.
The game was never in doubt, and leaves only one question: Is Clark the team to finally dethrone Bishop Gorman?
That may soon be answered, as the teams meet in a little more than two weeks.
“Tonight was good, but we look to go for No. 1 on Jan. 3,” Woodbury said. “It’s going to be awesome. I hope to do the same thing that I did tonight, and I hope that our team does the same thing that we did tonight.”