What a difference a week, or two, can make.
After scoring just 36 points in its previous home game, a loss to Odessa Permian, the Hobbs boys’ basketball team put up more than twice that as the Eagles beat the visiting Gadsden Panthers 77-55.
“We didn’t want to repeat 36 points from last time,” Hobbs coach Shelby Reeves said. “I know the crowd didn’t like that, so they didn’t come to this game, but that is OK. These guys wanted to prove that they could play and that is what they did tonight.”
Going even further back, on Dec. 3, the Eagles lost to Gadsden 82-80 in Anthony in overtime. Hobbs had to put together a furious fourth quarter rally, and get a half-court, buzzer-beating trey in that game just to tie it at 70-70.
This time, the game belonged to the Eagles right from the get-go.
“We are starting to look like a team a little bit,” Reeves said. “I saw the ball being passed around a couple of times. Some had a good shot, but they gave it up for a better shot. That is what a team starts to look like after a while.”
The Eagles sank a pair of treys to get the game started, taking a 6-0 lead, and never looked back. The Eagles would finish the game with 10 treys, their most since sinking 13 against Rio Rancho back on Dec. 6.
Hobbs had five different players record a three-pointer. Enrique Valenzuela had four while Jalen Goar and Teren Smith each had a pair. Zarius Duarte had one and Jaden Miller also had a trey, recording the Eagles’ final three points of the game.
Goar got the scoring started, sinking his 100th career three-pointer to give Hobbs a 3-0 lead. Valenzuela then sank his first trey of the night, doubling Hobbs; lead to 6-0. Smith added a trey later in the first quarter, pushing the Eagles lead to 11-2.
At the end of the first, Hobbs led 15-6.
“We want to jump on people quick. To jump on them in a hurry,” Reeves said. “I told them you can’t score six points, seven points and be running. If you want to run and get easy points, layups, then we have to score 16, 18, 19 points a quarter.”
After Gadsden scored first, the Eagles went on a 13-0 run to take a 28-8 lead with 5:16 left in the second. Valenzuela had Hobbs’ only trey in the second quarter, hitting the three-point shot near the end of the Eagles’ run. Hobbs outscored Gadsden 22-15 in the second to take a 37-20 lead into the break.
The Eagles poured in another 23 points in the third quarter with Valenzuela and Goar both sinking three-pointers. Hobbs also got quality play from Aaron Mora during the third quarter.
The sophomore had five points and two rebounds at the break, but hit another gear in the third, scoring six more points and grabbing five boards. Mora went on to finish the night with 13 points and 10 rebounds, giving the sophomore his first varsity double-double.
“I woke up this morning and I was just ready to play,” Mora said. “I just went out there and showed it.”
“He was grabbing rebounds and got a couple of putbacks,” Reeves said. “That is what we want our sophomores to do. We want them to start growing.”
After taking a 60-37 lead at the end of three, Hobbs got a layup and a trey from Smith to open the fourth and give the Eagles their largest lead of the game, 28 points.
Gadsden didn’t give up though and scored the next eight points, cutting Hobbs’ lead back down to 20 points. From that point on, the teams traded buckets the rest of the night. Hobbs scored the final points of the game on a Miller’s trey with 47 seconds left on the clock.
Valenzuela also had a double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing a game-high 11 boards. Smith was close, leading the Eagles with 17 points and grabbing eight rebounds before fouling out. Smith also had two steals and four blocked shots.
Goar finished with 11 points. Goar’s two treys give the sophomore 101 for his career.
The Eagles just about outdid the Panthers in every category. Hobbs had 42 rebounds to Gadsden’s 23. The Eagles had 11 steals and four blocked shots while Gadsden had seven and one blocked shot.
“We were just working harder (tonight),” Mora said. “We want to keep getting better and get every board that we can.”
Hobbs has now won three straight and improves to 6-4 with the victory. The Eagles will be back on the road this weekend. Hobbs heads to Artesia on Friday for a 7 p.m. tipoff followed by a 3 p.m. start at Las Cruces on Saturday.
“It is a big test for us. A big test,” Reeves said. “Artesia is always tough over there at their home and Las Cruces, I know they just lost one up in Albuquerque, but they are tough at home. This will be a big test for us to see where we are at.”
In junior varsity action, the JV Eagles dominated the JV Panthers, winning 75-38.
The JV squad led 14-6 after the first quarter, but exploded for 29 points in the second quarter, taking a 43-18 lead into the break. Hobbs’ JV team poured in another 22 points in the third quarter while limiting Gadsden’s JV team to just five. The JV Eagles led 65-23 at the start of the fourth quarter. Over the final eight minutes of play, the JV Eagles were outscored 11-10, but the win was already secured.