ALBUQUERQUE — This time last season, the Hobbs girls’ basketball team and its fans left The Pit disappointed when the Lady Eagles lost in the state championship game to West Mesa. Saturday, the No. 1 ranked Lady Eagles played in a crowdless Pit as they beat No. 3 Volcano Vista 58-43 to win their second title in three years, and third overall.
The Lady Eagles celebrated on the court, in the locker room, and outside of The Pit with their fans, who were prevented from attending because of the coronavirus.
Hobbs won its title behind a team effort that included Wisdom Anthony scoring a game-high 23 points. Ashley Aragon had 14 points on 4 of 7 shooting from behind the arc, and Elise Turrubiates added 13 points. Aniya Joseph grabbed game-high 11 rebounds, Turrubiates had eight boards, Andrea Evans had six, and Jamiah Clay finished with five.
The Lady Eagles offense scored 28 points in the paint, shot 40 percent from the field, and 35 percent from the three-point line. They outrebounded the Lady Hawks 39-26, forced 16 turnovers and had 12 steals.
The defense held Volcano Vista to 33 percent shooting from the perimeter, and 25 percent from the three, but the Lady Hawks did hit 100 percent, going 5-of-5, of their free throws.
“We had a size advantage so we definitely had to do our job in the size,” Hobbs head coach Joey Carpenter said. “But our guards came ready to play. We had seven threes to their six and that opened things for our post.”
Turrubiates agreed with her coach that the three-point shooting was huge for them.
“Those threes where big,” Turrubiates said. “When they hit shots like that I think I’m just happy I didn’t have to rebound. And it gave us a lot of opportunity to go to the hole and draw the foul. I think late in the game that was important.”
Aragon called this win big to prove their doubters wrong.
“We proved everybody that doubted us wrong and all our supporters will be happy for us,” she said. “That is all that we really care about.”
Hobbs had its first big run in the first quarter closing on a 13-5 run. The run began after Volcano Vista took a 3-2 lead off a three pointer from the top of the key. The Lady Eagles run was aided by the three-point shooting of Aragon, the post players grabbing offensive rebounds, and letting Turrubiates get putback layups. Throughout the run, the Volcano Vista players shouted at each other to make sure they had someone near the Hobbs shooters. It made no difference as the half court offense created space for the shooters to get an open look and for the first eight minutes Hobbs had the scoring touch. Hobbs closed the first with a 23-12 lead.
The defensive rotation by the Lady Eagles 3-2 zone did a great job of closing out on shooters and forcing an errant pass or the Lady Hawks to put the ball on the floor. That led to Hobbs winning the turnover battle in the first quarter.
The closing of the second quarter and beginning of the third saw the Lady Hawks go on the game’s second run, an 18-0 run that led to game being tied at 32-32.
With Hobbs leading 32-14, the Lady Hawks went on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to 35-24 at the half. Volcano Vista began to see some open looks from the three-point line and it forced Hobbs to commit turnovers. With the Lady Hawks hitting threes, the Hobbs defense became sloppy and allowed the Lady Hawks to get into the lane and get a few layups.
“I think Volcano used a lot of energy to get back into it,” Carpenter said. “I thought we put it on cruise control and shame on us. But once we started playing again, I felt pretty good towards the end of the third quarter that we where going to finish strong.”
Following a five second violation to start the third by Anthony, the Lady Hawks went on an 8-0 run to complete the 18-0 run that tied the game. It forced a timeout from Carpenter to try and get his team back to playing their game.
“We got too happy and we acted like we did not want to play defense,” Anthony said of the Volcano Vista run. “We motivated each other and tried to motivate each other.”
Unlike last season when West Mesa made a run to tie the game and take control, this time the Lady Eagles and Lady Hawks traded a few baskets, keeping the game tied before Hobbs went on the final run, 15-7, to retake control of the game.
With the game tied at 34-34, the Lady Eagles went on a 9-5 run to close the quarter behind a layup and three from the top of the arc by Anthony. Aragon then hit a running hook shot in the paint before Volcano Vista hit a three from the corner. With time expiring, Anthony brought the ball down the floor and hit a layup as at the buzzer to put Hobbs a head at 43-39 after three.
As the quarter wore on the Lady Eagles began to have that extra bounce against a Lady Hawks team beginning to show signs of fatigue.
“I feel like both teams where dogging it out,” Turrubiates said. “But we condition all the time and I knew we where going to have it. We started to run and they couldn’t keep up with the fast break.”
In the fourth quarter, the Lady Eagles continued their run by going on a 6-2 run to lead 49-41. That run took a lot of the fight out of many of the Lady Hawk players. As the game progressed Volcano Vista began to play slower and commit turnovers from fatigue. Hobbs used that to begin winning in the paint and grabbing offensive rebounds to get second chances and finished the game with an 8-4 run. Volcano Vista brought its bench out and Hobbs followed suit to close out the game.
“I’m happy that we got the game closer,” Volcano Vista head coach Lisa Villareal said. “Games like this are games of runs and they had one more then us.”
Looking ahead to the following season Carpenter and the Lady Eagles will be looking to re-rebuild on the season.
“Is that 29-1, wow what a season, “ he said. “We want to re-rebuild next year. Defending the title will be a challenge but we need to enjoy this first one right now and let the kids just love this.”
When asked what the bus ride home was going to be like this season compared to last season Anthony, Aragon, and Turrubiates all said in unison, it will be better. Turrubiates mentioned they where not going to be sad, and Anthony added they where probably not going to sleep on the ride back.