Carpenter named coach of the year
Joey Carpenter was on vacation when he found out. Traveling with his family to the west coast, he checked his email one day to read the news.
About 10 days later, it became official.
On Wednesday Carpenter, the Hobbs Lady Eagles basketball coach was named the 2018 Girls Basketball Coach of the Year by the New Mexico High School Coaches Association. Krystie Arreola was also honored as the 2018 Cheer Coach of the Year after leading Lovington to the Class 5A state championship.
It is the second time he has received such an honor. In 2016 he led the Roswell Lady Coyotes to the Class 5A state championship. Two months later, he was named the Lady Eagles coach. Then in July 2016, he was honored with the coaching award.
This past season Carpenter led the Lady Eagles to a 30-2 overall record and a Class 6A state championship with as 64-55 overtime win over Albuquerque Cibola in Albuquerque back in March. It is the program’s second-ever state championship.
“I’m just honored to be named,” Carpenter said on Wednesday. “And to receive the honor twice in three years, wow, that’s really special.”
It is the first time a Hobbs girls basketball coach has received the honor. Famed Hobbs Eagles boys basketball coach Ralph Tasker won the first two boys coaching awards in 1968 and 1969.
“To share this honor with Coach Tasker is amazing,” Carpenter said. “It’s an honor just to play in his gym. I’m happy about what this says for our city and our kids.”
Carpenter has amassed a 59-4 overall record in two seasons. He guided the Lady Eagles to the 2017 state tournament semifinals. This past year Hobbs advanced to the title game and needed two free throws from senior Kiara Knight with 0:00.4 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime and eventually beat Cibola.
That was after Hobbs used a three-quarter court pass from guard MacKenzye Gibson to post Ayanna Smith. The ball ricocheted off Smith’s hands and into Knight’s who was fouled attempting a layup.
“Call that play opportunity meets preparation,” Carpenter said Wednesday when reminiscing about that moment. “We had worked on that inbounds play at the end of every practice. The ball was suppose to go to Ayanna at the free-throw line, then two guards were to criss-cross and have Ayanna pass it to an open guard to hit the 3-pointer at the buzzer.”
It didn’t exactly go that way, but the end result proved something to Carpenter. Something he has always known. It takes more than good coaching to build a program.
“You have to have the kids who are willing to work hard and you have to have the support from the school and the community,” Carpenter said. “This (coaching) award may be in my name, but there are a lot of people who are responsible for it. We have a great coaching staff that deserves credit. Kiki (Knight) deserves all the credit for hitting those two free throws with practically no time on the clock. This honor goes to everyone on the team, not just me.”
While Carpenter is both humbled and thankful for the award, these honors aren’t want motivates him to keep going. It’s building a program full of great basketball players and full of depth.
“People didn’t know that we didn’t have our center (Smith) up until the Christmas holiday,” Carpenter said. “We never used it as an excuse, but as an opportunity for other players to step up. We had enough depth this year to where the next player up, just stepped up and did the job. That’s building a program. That’s building sustainability.”
Hobbs Athletic Director Brenda Wilson said Wednesday that Carpenter’s passion for teaching kids in and out of the gym is “contagious.”
“He is just a ball of energy that everyone is drawn to,” Wilson said. “Joey’s got this incredible work ethic and has such a positive demeanor. And it’s not just him. He has an incredible coaching staff that is second to none and Joey will be the first person to tell you that. He is very knowledgable and has a great rapport with the kids.
“It’s also what makes him a great math teacher. He’s just as good in the classroom as he is on the court and he’s respected for that by coaches and teachers alike.”