CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Clovis coach J.D. Isler watches the players on the floor while senior guard Manuel Robles makes an inbound during Thursday’s practice session at Rock Staubus Gym.
By Eric Butler: CNJ Correspondent
Given the intensity of the Clovis-Hobbs rivalry, tonight’s boys basketball clash would be well-attended even if both squads had records hovering around the .500 mark.
Both teams are quite a bit better than that, however, and that’s making the eyes and ears of the state turn toward Clovis’ Rock Staubus Gymnasium for the first game of the year between the two District 4-5A teams.
Clovis (21-0) is ranked No. 1 in Class 5A and Hobbs (21-2) is No. 2.
Clovis High athletic director Brian Stacy said that along with the usual radio personnel from Clovis and Hobbs that will be covering the game, he’s also fielded broadcast requests from Albuquerque and Roswell radio stations, too.
“I just told them that I don’t know what kind of outlets we have. They asked if they could do it over their cell phones and I said sure,” Stacy said. “If they want to sit up there and do it that way, I’ve got no problems with that.”
Clovis and Hobbs have met in state title games twice in the team’s long histories. Whether that happens again remains to be seen, but the number of potential college players on the court is somewhat reminiscent of one of those years.
In 1980, the Wildcats and Eagles were unbeaten when they met for the first time. Clovis’ Bubba Jennings and Hobbs’ Jeff Taylor, both who went on to play at Texas Tech, were among those on the court that night.
Now it’s Taylor’s son, also named Jeff, who is highly sought after — although several others on both squads will get their fair share of looks too. Assistant coaches from Tech, New Mexico, Eastern New Mexico University and Oklahoma State are expected to be on-hand for tip-off tonight.
“I went to Wal-Mart and bought a whole bunch more barstools for upstairs,” said Stacy, trying to find space for the additional requests.
As far as the general seating is concerned, hubbub over the game led to a quick sell-out in Clovis earlier this week.
“Monday morning was unbelievable. We sold out downstairs in an hour-and-a-half,” Stacy said. “They (tickets allotted for Hobbs fans) are not going as heavy, which is generally what happens. They’ll usually send about 300 here. I just send them their 500 tickets and see what they can sell. They bring back what they don’t (sell) and I’ll try to resell those.”
The Clovis AD said there’s a slight chance that unused Hobbs tickets might be available on gameday.
“That’s what we’re telling everybody, just to give us a call on Friday to see if there’s any left,” Stacy said.
“Gosh, I’ve had calls asking for tickets all week,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said. “Anytime No. 1 and No. 2 play, everybody’s going to be watching.”
In order to accommodate seating for as many people as possible, Hobbs won’t be sending any cheerleaders as Clovis has agreed to do the same when the teams meet in Hobbs in a couple of weeks.
“There’s just too many safety issues, logistics — things like that,” said Stacy, who will be one of the chief administrators keeping an eye out for excessive spectator rowdiness tonight.
“The coaches take care of business and the athletes take care of business,” he said. “But I get a couple of unruly fans on our end and they get a couple of unruly fans on their end, and those are the ones we’ve got to kind of watch.”
What: Hobbs at Clovis
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: Rock Staubus Gym
Records: Hobbs 21-2, 1-0. Clovis 21-0, 0-0
At stake: District 4-5A lead
Radio: KCLV-AM 1240, KICA FM 98.3
Postgame: Members of Central Baptist Church of Clovis, First Baptist Church of Hobbs and the Thursday Rotary Club of Clovis will provide a box meal for Hobbs players on the ride home as an example of the Victory with Honor program.