The Hobbs boys’ basketball team is heading to Albuquerque. The Eagles booked their spot in the quarterfinals with a 78-67 win over longtime rival Clovis Saturday night in Tasker Arena.
For the Eagles head coach Shelby Reeves, the win was another milestone first. It was his first state tournament victory. But even with the milestone, he wanted the credit to go to his team.
“My boys came out here with a lot of heart and pride,” the Eagles coach said. “Even though I am the head coach, we give that win to the boys.”
The matchup was the fifth of the season between the two schools with Hobbs winning three of the five. One week ago, the Eagles lost to the Wildcats, falling 85-68 in the District 4-5A Tournament championship game.
“I don’t like to question committees and how people look at things, but when you have the south playing each other – Clovis has beaten (teams) like Santa Fe and Rio Rancho,” Reeves said. “A lot of those Albuquerque schools really haven’t seen us other than on video tapes and things like that. The problem comes that they didn’t want both of us there (in Albuquerque) and I hate to say it like that. … I don’t think they wanted us both to be there. They want the south to get eliminated.”
Saturday was the complete opposite of the district tournament championship game in which Hobbs fell behind quickly. This time, the Eagles were the team to come out hot and build the early lead in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament. That early lead helped as the Eagles never trailed.
“Practice to the game. Practice to the game,” Hobbs senior Isaiah Chavarria said. “We picked up the intensity in practice. We knew we had to come out and hit them in the face like they did us (last week). We hit them first (tonight) and we kept the intensity up all game. They came back, and it was getting a little chippy, but we managed to squeeze the life out of them.”
Hobbs senior Rae Tarin took a lot of the blame for the district tournament championship game loss on himself and he was adamant his team wasn’t going to lose to Clovis again.
“All week it has been intense,” he said. “Not even from coaches standpoint, but from my standpoint. I am the captain of the team and we lost by 17 last game. I watched film and looked at it to see what we could have done better. We were scoreless for 3 minutes and 34 seconds (in the loss) after we pulled to within one point. Not being able to score again and losing is ridiculous. Me being the senior captain, I took the blame for that because I didn’t execute anything to help get my teammates into scoring position last weekend. This time, I wasn’t going to lose again. I wanted to win because I want to go to Albuquerque. We want to bring that 18th banner back home.”
Hobbs opened the game with an 8-0 run and by the end of the first quarter the Eagles led 24-13. During the second quarter, the scoring was much closer, but the Eagles still managed to extend their lead, outscoring the Wildcats 19-17. Hobbs led 43-30 at the break.
Things changed in the second half. Clovis matched Hobbs point for point in the third quarter and actually outscored the Eagles 21-19 during the fourth quarter.
While the Eagles never lost the lead, it did get close late in the game. At the start of the fourth quarter, Hobbs led 59-46. Over the next six minutes, Clovis was able to rally and cut the Eagles’ 13-point lead to just three. With 1:56 to play, Hobbs’ lead had been cut to 70-67. But the Wildcats would not score again and Hobbs would close out the game on an 8-0 run.
“Every game is like a war, but there are little battles in-between,” Reeves said. “You are going to win some and lose some. We knew (Clovis) was going to make a run here and there, we just had to keep maintaining.”
For Chavarria, the win will be a lasting one as it was the last time he will play on the Tasker Arena hardwood.
“It feels great. It is the last home game of the season and my last year as a senior,” he said. “We knew we had to come out and do what we had to do if we wanted to keep on pushing it along.”
The Eagles had five players score in double figures. Jalen Young led Hobbs with 14 points. The senior did not score in the fourth quarter, but his final points of the night came with five seconds left in the third when he slammed home a dunk that got the Tasker Arena crowd roaring.
Brundon Pettit, who made his first start for the Eagles, had 12 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter. Chavarria finished with 11 while Teren Smith and Jalen Goar each had
“I wasn’t making my layups,” Pettit said. “I just thank God we got the win. That is all I really wanted.”
Rae Tarin just missed double figures, scoring nine points while also dishing out nine assists. The senior now has 495 career assists, second most in Hobbs history. His 223 for the season are the third most in a season. He trails only Mike Smith, his former coach, who had 262 in the 1979-80 season and 232 in the 1978-79 season.
“That is pretty cool,” Tarin said upon learning where he sits in the Hobbs career assists records. “That is just a blessing that (my teammates) make it for me. It is not me, it is my teammates who do it. I find them, but they are the ones making the baskets, not me.”
With the win, Hobbs moves on to the quarterfinals of the Class 5A Tournament. The Eagles are set to face No. 1 seed Volcano Vista on Wednesday afternoon in The Pit. Tipoff is set for 4:45 p.m.
“We are blessed to be in the state tournament,” Reeves said. “I guess Albuquerque is laughing because Las Cruces lost, but we know anything can happen. In this state, one, two, three, anything can happen. It is wide open and it is whoever is gelling right now.”
“We need to keep the same intensity up,” Pettit added. “We need to keep playing the same and play hard. We had to want it more if we want to keep playing.”