The Hobbs boys’ basketball team thrilled a packed Tasker Arena Wednesday night as the Eagles laid claim to the 62nd Annual Hobbs Holiday Tournament championship. Hobbs, which had lost in the previous two HHT championship games to Cleveland, cruised to a victory over the Storm, beating them 77-53.
“This win means a lot,” Hobbs senior Aaron Mora said. “Las Cruces beat them by 27 and we beat them by 24. It just shows where we are at, but we are not done. We are going to keep getting better.”
The win was especially sweet for Hobbs head coach Shelby Reeves as it was his first time winning the tournament since taking over the head coaching job prior to the 2018-19 season.
“It feels good. Since I have been the head coach, I haven’t won this,” Reeves said. “As a coach this is kind of what you are known by. A lot of people have said, coach, you haven’t won a Holiday Tournament, so this is sweet.”
For the third straight night the Eagles started slow. Cleveland scored first and still led as the opening quarter drew to a close. But, Caurtrey Morgan hit a layup in the closing seconds, giving Hobbs a 15-14 lead after the first eight minutes.
The Storm retook the lead, 16-15, to start the second quarter, but that would be the last time Hobbs trailed as the Eagles countered with a 6-0 run to go in front 21-16. Cleveland would get back within three points, but that was it.
“I knew this was our last time to win this thing and beat Cleveland once and for all,” Hobbs senior Jalen Gore said. “We just put our all out there. We came out and wanted to hit them hard. We worked hard on defense and came out with the victory.”
Hobbs poured the points in during the second quarter, scoring 23 while giving up just nine. Mora had 10 of his game-high 22 points in the second quarter. Mora also finished with 10 rebounds, giving the senior his second straight game with a double-double.
“My teammates were finding me,” Mora said. “I was finishing the ball, jumping, and getting rebounds. That’s what I need to do.”
The Eagles continued to score in bunches in the third quarter as they put up another 23 points. With 4:04 left in the third, Mora lit up the crowd with a dunk, extending the Eagles’ lead to 48-25. By the time the third quarter was over, the Eagles had pushed their lead to 61-34.
Scoring was close in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles still came out on top, edging the Storm 16-14.
The Eagles had three players score in double figures. Aside from Mora, Gore chipped in 18 and Morgan finished with 11.
Ronnie Ross missed one of his four free throws and finished with nine points while Jesus Ramos chipped in eight and Michael Mackey contributed six, all in the third quarter. Tyler Box and Ethan Vanlandingham also scored for Hobbs.
“These guys are coming out and having fun playing with each others,” Reeves said. “Kicking the ball out when somebody has a better shot, they don’t mind passing the ball. A lot of people could be in double figures. We have a good team and these guys know how to score.”
The 53 points scored by Cleveland was its second lowest scoring output of the season.
The Storm were led in scoring by David Steverson who finished with 17 points while Antonio Avila had 11.
The Eagles’ head coach was very appreciative of the crowd that came out to support the team the entire tournament, but especially Wednesday night.
“It is good to be playing at home,” Reeves said. “We have the sixth man and they came out and they were cheering. The band was playing. How do you not get ready to play with that? The student body was awesome.”
With the win, Hobbs improves to 12-1 on the season and Cleveland falls to 9-3. The Eagles will now prepare to host Goddard on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Tasker Arena.
“We are going to give (the team) two days off and we will come back on Saturday and work towards that,” Reeves said.