Wednesday, Dec. 10, 1997 | 1:13 a.m.
There's no such thing as a night off when it comes to playing the boys' basketball teams in the Class 4A Sunset Division.
That's because defending state champ Bishop Gorman resides there. Cheyenne is thought to be a favorite by many, Western has plenty of weapons and nobody's counting out Durango or Cimarron-Memorial. Heck, even Bonanza looks to be much improved over a year ago.
Clark is the seventh team in the division, coming off a 12-12 season a year ago. The Chargers feel they deserve to be mentioned among the Sunset's elite but realize how tough the road ahead of them is. Gordon Jennings' team simply has to prove itself on the court.
Although it's very early, Clark is slowly doing just that. The Chargers are 3-1 heading into tonight's home game with Silverado (0-2) and full of confidence. Jennings thought it was imperative to get off to a fast start and his team has responded.
"I've been really pleased," said Jennings, "especially with their effort. They are doing the best they can to be the best they can."
The Chargers like to run and gun and three players -- Jamie Minor, Kevin Gaines and David Chalmers -- are seeing the results in the scoring column. Minor is averaging 22 points a contest, Gaines 20 and Chalmers 18. Clark isn't big inside, but Sean Smith, Eddie Jefferson, Steve Robertson and Eli Taylor -- blue-collar workers all -- have been getting the job done.
Guard Will Reed has played himself into the rotation and 6-7 Justin Jefferson will join the team in time for the holiday tournament season. That will give Jennings nine pretty solid players to rotate in and out of the game.
"We want to get it up and down the floor," Jennings said. "They love to run so I let them run. I think they play better when they are running hard. That also helps us cause some turnovers."
After opening the season with a pair of victories in Arizona, Clark lost to Chaparral last week, falling way behind the hot-shooting Cowboys in the first half and never recovering. The Chargers came back, though, to whip Green Valley on Friday.
Jennings said the Chargers are still unpredictable, capable of playing very well one moment and looking horrible the next. Still, the Clark coach believes that by the time the season is over, his team will be very good.
It's possible that the Chargers will be vastly improved with little to show for it, thanks to the Sunset world they live in. Jennings knows all that, but he's still confident in his bunch.
"I think (the Sunset) is stacked," he said. "Whoever makes the playoffs is going to have earned it. I think it's going to be a dead heat between Gorman, Western, Cheyenne and us... Cimarron is going to slip in there somewhere and Durango will too.
"I might be sticking my neck out too far but I honestly believe this team can be one of the top two teams in the division. We're having a lot of fun right now. After tonight, we play in a round robin (this weekend) at Durango (along with Cheyenne, Western and the host school). That will test us to see what we are made of."
There are several more boys' games on tap tonight. Rancho travels to Gorman, Green Valley is at Bonanza, Valley plays Cimarron, Western hosts Vo-Tech, Eldorado plays at Durango, Cheyenne welcomes Basic and Las Vegas is at Chaparral.
In girls' games, Gorman is at Rancho, Green Valley hosts Bonanza, Cimarron plays at Valley, Clark tangles with Silverado, Western is at Vo-Tech, Durango plays Eldorado and Basic hosts Cheyenne.