Lady Eagles taking shape after title season
Over the past two seasons, the Hobbs girls’ basketball team has gone 59-4, winning two District 3-6A titles, making it to the NMAA Class 6A Final Four in 2017 and winning it all in 2018. In addition to their overall record, the Lady Eagles went 22-2 in district play and 25-1 on their home court.
But things are going to change when the 2018-19 season gets underway. First off, the Lady Eagles will be playing in Class 5A as the NMAA reclassified and redistricted all its school. While the Lady Eagles lost several players to graduation, they do have three returning starters, Amiah Smith, Ayanna Smith, and Mackenzye Gibson.
During the 2017-18 season, Amiah Smith was second on the team in scoring, pouring in 269 points. She led the team in assists with 137 while also coming up with 88 steals and 86 rebounds. Ayanna Smith chipped in 180 points with 137 rebounds and 23 assists. She also blocked 17 shots. As for Gibson, she had 142 points, 75 rebounds, 66 steals, and 34 assists.
“They are going to be a huge part,” Hobbs coach Joe Carpenter said. “Everything is like a puzzle. Their pieces in their puzzle are way bigger than everyone else’s pieces. They are going to be relied on a lot. … Two of those three have to be playing to their level or above their level, at all times.”
But there are more than three players on the court and as for the other two starting spots, there are three players who battling for it. However, according to the Lady Eagles coach, if the season were to start today, the other two starters would me Wisdom Anthony and Elise Turrubiates, though Mariah Jennings could very well be a starter as well.
Jennings finished with 124 points, 96 rebounds, 33 steals, and 19 assists last year. Turrubiates played sparingly off the bench during the season, but according to Carpenter, has really upped her game during the offseason.
What might surprise those who watch the team when the season starts is two of the would-be starters are underclassmen. In fact, one of them is an eighth grader.
“We are starting an eighth grader,” Carpenter said. “She started every game this summer for us. She goes to Highland.
“The young ones are not going to be relied on to carry the load,” the coach continued. “They are going to be relied on to do the best that they can do to help the team. … She will be the first every eighth grader to play varsity basketball for the Hobbs High School girls.”
Over the weekend, the Lady Eagles’ summer program came to an end. They played at the Hobbs Team Camp, in Roswell, in Andrews, Texas, at Mayfield in Las Cruces as well as at New Mexico State and Texas A&M. Over their 45 games, the team went 39-6.
“We are going to be a competitive ball club,” Carpenter said. “We are going to be a little different than what we were last year, but we are going to be very competitive. We rebound a lot better, but we don’t take care of the ball offensively as well. We are not as experienced as we were in the past, but we definitely rebound and we get after it. Most of the time we have a size advantage or are equal with the teams we are playing.”
For the most part, the Lady Eagles’ coach was pleased with what he saw from his team during the summer.
“They raised their level of play when they needed to,” Carpenter said. “I really felt like when we were playing good teams, we met the challenge. We had probably one game all summer where we got beat by 10 points or more and that was Mayfield, but we had a real bad game against them. Other than that, we were in every ball game. When you go 39-6, playing 45 ball games and are in 44 games, you are competing and that is the one thing I notice about them.”
With the summer basketball program over, most of the team will head off to begin preparing for the fall sports season. Both Smith’s, Jennings, Jazlynn Shanklin, Saqqary Baker, and Turrubiates will all be with the volleyball program while Ashley Aragon, Cienna Herrera, Shanice Mackey, Anthony, and Gibson are all soccer players.
“We have got 14 kids and I think 13 of them are playing another sport,” Carpenter said. “That was one of the things that is different from before. Instead of it being two or three kids, we have 13 out of our top 14 kids playing another report. When I first got here, we had a couple and everyone else just did basketball. I highly encourage our kids to go play other sports and become more competitive.”
When the Winter 2018-19 season starts, the Lady Eagles won’t get a chance to defend their two district titles. With the moves the NMAA made, Hobbs will be playing in District 4-5A. Its new district opponents will still include Carlsbad, while Clovis will be back in the district after a two-year absence. Also in the district this coming year will be Roswell.
“I see a very competitive team. Whether that translates into wins and losses, I have no idea,” Carpenter said. “The summer is always fools gold. I just know we are going to be competitive. I don’t think we are going to be a team that lies down and lets someone walk in here and beat us. We have lost one game (at home) in two years. … The one thing you can say about Hobbs is, you may beat us, but you are going to have to play to beat us.”