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Carpenter nets 500th career win

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Carpenter nets 500th career win

Peter Stein/News-Sun

Joe Carpenter is like that four-door sedan that keeps running and running, that car that gets you where you want to go.

Carpenter has driven the Hobbs girls basketball program to seven district titles and three state championships, the third coming just 11 months ago in Albuquerque. Before his time at Hobbs, Carpenter steered the Roswell girls basketball program to 14 district championships and one state title.

Overall, Carpenter’s teams have cruised to 19 state Final Fours, 10 state championship games, and four state titles.

All those numbers have amounted to two bigger ones – 500 and 200. A week ago, Carpenter earned both simultaneously when the Lady Eagles flattened Carlsbad 58-22, which marked Carpenter’s 500th career win, his 200th at Hobbs.

Now that’s what you’d call dependability.

The biggest milestone for Carpenter, the most impressive, is 500, half a grand.

“It just means it’s a lot of years of coaching a lot of good players and being surrounded by really good assistant coaches, that’s what it means,” Carpenter said. “It’s just a culmination of all that, and I’m just happy to be a part of that many wins.”

Carpenter can still remember the first as plainly as he can remember the 500th.

“Oh yeah,” Carpenter said. “It was a long time ago. I would’ve never thought I would get 500 wins, and I never thought I’d be a part of a lot of things that I have. I’ve just been fortunate. God has blessed me.”

Exactly 40 percent of those wins, 200, have come with the Lady Eagles.

“It means a lot,” Carpenter said. “At the end of your career you don’t want to be on the downhill slide, you want to be still on top of your game. And right now I’ve still got a fire in my belly to win a couple more (state titles), and that’s what we’re trying to do right now.”

Carpenter still remembers his fast start as Hobbs coach in 2016.

“Yeah,” he said, “we won 18 games in a row that first year here. We were 18-0 to start the season, so it’s been a lot of fun.”

Carpenter’s first state championship with Roswell came earlier in 2016. The Lady Coyotes finished 27-2, a stellar season capped off with a 59-41 victory over Gallup in the 5A title game.

Carpenter’s first state championship with Hobbs occurred in 2018, completed with a 64-55 win over Cibola. It was the last season the Lady Eagles competed as a 6A team.

Carpenter returned to his 5A roots a year later, but Hobbs was on the losing end of a 63-51 score in the state championship game against West Mesa.

The Lady Eagles were back in the title game in 2020, minus fans at The Pit in Albuquerque due to the onset of COVID-19. But they completed a 29-1 championship season anyway with a 58-43 win over Volcano Vista. It would be the first of four consecutive title-game showdowns against the Lady Hawks.

The following year saw the Lady Eagles fall to Volcano, 52-49 in overtime, on a half-court buzzer-beater that made Sports Center.

A younger Hobbs team lost the 2022 championship game to Volcano Vista, 49-32. But last year the Lady Eagles finally won another blue trophy, beating Volcano 52-45 to regain the status of state champions while finishing 28-3.

As Hobbs pursues a championship repeat, the players appreciate all that Carpenter has done to put them in position to do so. They appreciate all of those 500 career victories.

“I think it means a lot,” Hobbs junior guard Brynn Hargrove said. “We’re part of a lot of those wins, so coming out tonight we were very excited. We wanted to get that win for him. He’s very excited too, so I’m just glad we came out as a family and got that win.”

“It means a lot,” Lady Eagles junior guard Nakia Mojica added. “It was very anticipated; we were all ready for it, we were all excited for him, just because he’s worked so hard for this. And so have we.”

And with that win in the rear view, the reliable sedan now drives on.

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