Lady Cats win away from title

Senior Aimee Hilburn was one of three Lady Wildcats to score in double figures in a 57-33 win over Hobbs in the teams’ first meeting this season. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

Listening to Hobbs girls basketball coach Johnny Casaus, you might be hard pressed to discern that his squad actually has a chance to move into a tie for the District 4-5A lead tonight at Clovis.

Indeed, the Lady Eagles do have that opportunity, but it would take a big leap — up and over a team that dominated Casaus’ squad in Hobbs less than a month ago.

Clovis (23-2 overall, 3-0 district) will wrap up the regular season district crown with a win tonight at Rock Staubus gymnasium. Hobbs (21-4, 2-1) can force a deadlock with a road victory — a scenario which would then mean a tiebreaker game Monday night.

The latter scenario is one Casaus is cognizant of, but not one overly occupying his mind. And the last meeting between the two teams is the reason why.

“We had a hard time scoring and they’ve got five people out on the floor that can score. They play good half-court defense; I mean, they smother you with their half-court defense,” Casaus said of the state’s top-ranked Class 5A team. “I don’t think we can get blown out by Clovis, or it’ll hurt our seeding (for the state tournament). But everybody’s going to get blown out by Clovis — it’s just that good of a team.”

Clovis coach Miles Watters thinks Hobbs may try to do something different tonight against the Lady Wildcats.
“He’s had a whole week to prepare and I kind of do think they’ll try throw something different at us, but I don’t know what it might be,” Watters said.

“Basically, all they played was man (defense) against us last time and their primary defense is a match-up zone, so I was a little surprised they did that.”

Tonight’s boys game between the bitter rivals had a little of the drama stripped away since the two teams last met.
The Wildcats (16-7, 3-0) defeated Hobbs in the team’s first meeting in Clovis, and was poised to have the district race settled in Hobbs.

But the Eagles (14-11, 1-2) dropped a shocking 83-81 decision last week at Carlsbad — Hobbs’ first loss to the Cavemen in a dozen years. And Tuesday, Clovis clubbed the Cavemen 81-49 to win its first-regular season district crown since 2000.

Hobbs, meanwhile, has had an antsy week off heading into this evening’s home contest.

“It’s been a long time. We would have liked to get back out on a Tuesday, but have had to wait until Friday,” Hobbs coach Russ Gilmore said. “It was a tough loss and you don’t like to take a loss like that this time of year, but that occurred and you’ve just got to pick up and move on.”

Hobbs can finish alone in second place by beating Clovis.
Clovis coach J.D. Isler said his team will have plenty of motivation come tip-off time in Ralph Tasker Arena.

“Obviously, we’d like to finish up the district four-and-oh. I’m pretty sure Clovis hasn’t gone undefeated in district,” Isler said. “We know it’ll be a tough environment. But, really, I’m looking forward to our kids being in that environment to kind of get them battle-tested for the playoffs.”