ICYMI: Lady Eagles advance to state quarters
It may have been first round of the Class 6A state girls basketball tournament, but for six Hobbs Lady Eagles it was the final home game of their high school careers.
What a way to go out.
The six seniors, Amaya Lewis, Desiree Martinez, Ciera Mackey, Kenzie Turner, Kiara Knight, and Za’Riah Griffin scored 51 points to help Hobbs to an 86-51 win over the Artisco Heritage Lady Jaguars (14-14) on Friday. Overall 10 of 14 Lady Eagles scored. Hobbs (27-2) advances to play Albuquerque Eldorado in the state quarterfinals Tuesday at 8:15 p.m., at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.
The playoff game was a rematch of a December matchup in Albuquerque that went about the same way with Hobbs winning 65-30. It would have been easy for the Lady Eagles to enter the second contest with the expectations of an easy win, but Martinez said that was never an option.
“We can’t go in to a game with the mindset that we are going to beat them by 30 or 40,” she said. “You have to come in like we have never played them, because they may be ready to play more than they were last time. They might surprise us. So we have to go into each game with our heads on straight.”
With their heads on straight the Lady Eagles hit three 3-pointers in the game’s opening minutes for a 9-0 lead. Hobbs built it to 12-2 halfway through the first quarter and kept playing hard. A 23-12 lead after the first quarter grew to 41-25 at halftime.
Of Artisco’s 25 first-half points, senior guard Bryza Pizano had 21. In fact from the 2:42 mark of the first quarter until intermission, Pizano scored 19-straight points, finishing with a game-high 29.
“She had an extremely good first half,” Hobbs head coach Joey Carpenter said of Pizano. “She surprised us by making a lot of shots. But other than that, we used 14 kids. So we played a lot of kids tonight.”
Hobbs was led by Lewis’ 22 points, while Ayanna Smith knocked down 12 and Knight and Amiah Smith added 11 each, respectively.
Any thoughts of a Lady Jaguar comeback in the third quarter were quickly squashed as Hobbs used a 19-1 run to open a 60-26 lead at the quarter’s halfway point. By that point Carpenter had started subbing in bench players with starters, mixing up the rotation.
And as the lead grew, Hobbs continued to stay aggressive and intense, partly because of the play of bench players like Turner, who may not have scored, but still enjoyed battling in the paint.
“I like doing the dirty work,” Turner said. “When the first five have had their rest, they get back in and score. I just continue to be aggressive.”
That includes Carpenter, who said he doesn’t take a play off.
“I stay on them (the team),” Carpenter said. “I don’t care if we are up 20 or 30 points. They know they are going to hear it from me. I am going to coach them on every possession. Our coaching staff, that is what we are built on. So we’re going to coach every possession like it is our last.”
For those six seniors, playing in front of their home fans one last time is something special.
“It’s means a lot (to play in front of the fans),” said Mackey, who knocked in nine points. “I feel like we get a special privilege to play in front of them. They believe in us and paid to come see us, so we should give them a show.”