By Rick White
Coaches like talking about streaks about as much as construction workers like talking about their feelings.
Just ask Clovis coach Miles Watters and Hobbs counterpart Johnny Casaus, who are at opposite ends of one.
Both said too much is being made out of Hobbs beating the Lady Wildcats seven-straight times over the last two-plus seasons.
As much as he despises talk of the streak, Watters also knows the only way to put the talk to rest is to beat Hobbs in tonight’s District 4-5A showdown at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.
The third-ranked Lady Wildcats (22-3, 6-1 district) come into their final district game trailing league-leading Hobbs (19-6, 7-0) by a game.
Clovis’ only loss in its last 17 games is a 46-44 double-overtime defeat at Hobbs 17 days ago.
“It seems like Hobbs is in our heads,” said Watters, as he rubbed two quarters between his thumb and forefinger (more on that later) Wednesday as he waited for practice to start. “We’ve got to find a way to get over that hump and Friday night is the perfect night to do it.
“Hobbs always gets a good crowd down there, I hope we can do the same thing Friday night.”
He said Hobbs had the better team the last two seasons — the Lady Eagles won the school’s first girls state basketball title last season and finished second in 2002 — but doesn’t believe that’s the case this season.
Casaus, a longtime Clovis assistant before taking the Hobbs three years ago, downplayed the Lady Eagles’ master of Clovis as of late.
“We got lucky the last time,” Casaus said. “We were very fortunate to win. (Clovis) had a bad shooting night.”
Hobbs won the game on Jessica Nelson’s last-second shot as she was falling to the floor.
All seven of the games in the streak have been close, including another double-overtime thriller in Clovis last year, which only adds to Watters’ and the Lady Cats’ frustration.
Watters said the Lady Wildcats played one of their worst games of the season as Clovis tied its season-low for points despite playing two overtimes.
Rebounding has always been a strength for Hobbs, which is one of the few teams that can matchup with the Lady Wildcats’ inside tandem of sophomore Brittany Blackmon and senior Monique Walker, Watters said.
“They’re really physical and athletic,” Watters said. “We’re challenging our posts to step up and be ready to go.”
Clovis sophomore Aimee Hilburn said she and her teammates got impatient last time against Hobbs’ matchup zone.
“It’s a challenge to get the ball inside because they do a better job of covering our posts than anybody we’ve faced,” Hilburn said.
But more importantly, she said, “we’ve got to own the boards.”
Hilburn doesn’t give much credence to the streak. She did admit nerves probably got the best of the Lady Wildcats in the last game — not because of the streak, but because it was a big game.
“We weren’t really focused,” said Hilburn, the Lady Cats’ sixth-man as a freshman last year. “We don’t really think about not having beaten them in the last two years.”
The reason Watters was rubbing the quarters together? For luck.
If Clovis beats Hobbs, it will set up a playoff for the top seed in the district tournament which also comes with a berth in the state tournament.
A coin flip would decide who hosts the seeding playoff game.