The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Rivalry renewed

Wildcats should be well-rested heading into home contest with Hobbs


February 12, 2020

Kevin Wilson

Clovis senior Dewayne Dawson takes the floater in Friday's win over Roswell. The Wildcats will host Hobbs Friday night in the second meeting between the teams in District 4-5A play.

CLOVIS — There was Clovis guard Bubba Jennings playing with a head injury and bloody uniform at Hobbs in 1979.

Forty years later, there was a packed and loud Rock Staubus Gymnasium watching Clovis hold on to beat the Eagles by five.

And there were other Clovis/Hobbs boys basketball classics before 1979 and since last year’s regular-season matchup at the Rock, including the Wildcats beating Hobbs for the 2019 District 4-5A tournament championship and Hobbs returning the favor in the first round of state tournament play a week later.

It’s a rivalry where the games usually count a lot. And premium parking means arriving early. This Friday should be no different.

The crowded parking lot on Friday will be at Staubus Gym, where Hobbs (16-7, 3-0) will tip off against Clovis (16-7, 2-1) at 7 p.m.

Round 1 this season went to the Eagles, who beat the ’Cats 75-59 at Hobbs High School on Jan. 31. Clovis is trying to tie the season series, and for more reason than just pride.

There could well be postseason implications on the line.

“We want to make sure, worst-case scenario, that we tie for first in district,” Clovis head coach Jaden Isler said after last Friday’s 64-49 home win over Roswell, the Wildcats’ most recent game because Tuesday’s contest against Carlsbad was postponed by snow. “Right now we’re the highest-ranked team out of all the teams in our district, so if we tie for the regular-season district (lead) we’re going to get a higher seed in the state playoffs than anyone else in our district.”

Which is big, because last year Hobbs was seeded No. 8 in 5A, Clovis No. 9. They played their first-round state tournament game against each other in Hobbs, and the Eagles won 78-67, ending the Wildcats’ season.

The stakes of seeding and home-court playoff advantage makes games like Friday’s that much more crucial.

“So our goal is just to handle our business and take care of our games and see what happens,” Isler said. “Everybody else has got to win theirs. We’re hoping for, worst-case scenario, to tie for a district championship.”

Now comes the matter of beating Hobbs.

“Hobbs is really good,” Wildcats senior forward Ethan Gershon said after Friday’s win over Roswell. “(The Eagles) like to play really fast. When we were in Hobbs we were turning it over a lot because of the way they pressed.”

Playing at the Rock should help, but home-court advantage alone likely won’t do it.

“(Against Roswell) we did good on our turnovers. Usually it’s the turnovers,” Gershon said. “Our defense is really good most of the time. If we keep our turnovers down, we’ll do really good.”


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