CARLSBAD – Heading into its final game of the regular season, the Hobbs boys’ basketball team had two things it wanted to accomplish; win the regular season district championship and get a 20-win regular season. That would be a tough task as the Eagles final game was not only against the Cavemen, but it was in Carlsbad. Making the chore even tougher was that the Eagles had to play without their head coach, Shelby Reeves, who was suspended for one game after getting two technicals a week ago in a win over Clovis.
After 32 minutes of back and forth hoops, the Eagles achieved their goals, beating Carlsbad 62-52 in the Cave.
“That was our mission,” Hobbs assistant coach Vince Taylor said. “That is one of the things I talked to the kids about. We came down here to win a district championship for them to win a district championship for their leader who couldn’t be here tonight coach Reeves. That was our goal and that was our mission that we wanted to accomplish.”
“This is great,” Hobbs senior Rae Tarin added. “This is my first (district championship) in four years so I am very happy to win it and we are just going to keep moving forward.”
There were five lead changes and four ties in the first eight minutes, but when the quarter came to a close, it was the Eagles leading the Cavemen 18-14.
“I thought our kids played great. I thought they played with a lot of grit and a lot of passion,” Carlsbad coach Jamaal Brown said. “They got a lot of energy from our great crowd tonight and I couldn’t be more proud of m kids. I thought they left it all on the floor tonight.”
Hobbs built up a seven point lead in the second quarter, but Carlsbad knotted the game at 27-all with 35 seconds left in the half before Soverign Anthony put the Eagles back in front 29-27 at the break.
When the second half began, Carlsbad got within one point, 33-32, of the Eagles with 5:50 left in the third, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the night.
“That has kind of been us all year,” Brown said. “We fight back and we get right there. I am a firm believer if you can get that lead you put a little bit more pressure on the other team and it was unfortunate that we couldn’t finish that nice run that we had and get that lead and put a little bit more pressure on Hobbs.”
Following that close encounter, the Eagles pulled away, outscoring the Cavemen 22-12, and taking a 51-39 lead into the final eight minutes of play.
Closing out the win was not so easy though as the Cavemen never quit. Both teams scored 11 points during the fourth quarter. After Hobbs built up a 14-point lead, Carlsbad responded with an 8-1 run to get back within seven points.
“For over 30 years, every time we play in Carlsbad, it is always a tough matchup,” Taylor said. “No matter how good a team we have and no matter how good a team they have, it’s always a battle, and that is what you want your kids to experience.”
Rae Tarin led all scorers with 19 points. The Eagle senior also had 10 assists to finish with a double-double. He came up one steal shy of getting a triple-double after recording nine steals. Tarin also had five rebounds for the Eagles.
Tarin wasn’t the only Eagle scoring though. Brundon Pet-tit had his four straight game with double figure points as the junior had 11. Isaiah Chavarria also scored 11 while Soverign Anthony chipped in 10.
As for the Cavemen, they were led in scoring by Josh Sillas and Stevie Bartlett, each of who had 12 points. Parent grabbed a team-high seven rebounds for the Cavemen and Evan Sullivan had six.
With the win, Hobbs finished the regular season at 20-6 and went 5-1 in District 4-5A to win the regular district championship. The Eagles will have the top seed in the District 4-5A Tournament next week and will host the championship game.
“This is the best start since Trey Nelson and the championship season (in 2014-15),” Tarin said of the Eagles 20 win regular season. “We are 20 and 6 and it’s a great feeling. We went 21-10 last year and the previous year we went 20-10. Just to be on pace with that already in a season like this, it feels great. We have to continue striving to get better.”