Winning the regular-season championship in District 4-5A, with three teams, is a pretty simple endeavor — first to three wins gets it.
Carlsbad has one, and Clovis will look for its first Friday night at Ralph Tasker Arena when the Wildcats visit the Hobbs Eagles.
The Wildcats (14-6) are winners of three straight heading into the district opener, and would host the District 4-5A championship March 2 with another three-game streak.
“We hope it’s realistic,” Clovis coach Matt King said. “But I think in this district, you can’t look ahead. Looking at three is brutal. You’ve got to look at one.”
Hobbs, at home following a 69-66 loss at Carlsbad Tuesday night, knows it’s behind the 8-ball.
“We’ve got to win out,” second-year coach Mike Smith said. “It’s a big game for us Friday night.”
Under Smith, the Eagles have gone 21-2 in two seasons at Ralph Tasker Arena. One of those defeats came last year at the hands of Clovis in the 4-5A title game.
The Clovis team that did that only graduated one player off the roster, and comes in with three seniors averaging double figures — led by guard D.J. Blackmon at 17.2 ppg.
“They look like the same team as last year,” Smith said. “They’re big, they’re talented. We’ve got our work cut out for us Friday night.”
King said he hopes to make it as hard as possible for the Eagles, noting that they’re already in a corner due to the loss against the Cavemen. He hopes the Wildcats are a better team than the one that left Ralph Tasker with a win.
“We’d like to think we’ve gotten a lot better, but the personnel is the same,” King said. “We’re a little bit older, have a bit more experience and we’ve been through some battles.”
Hobbs (17-5, 0-1 district), meanwhile, is led by guard Dane Pannell’s 21.3 points per night, but he’s gotten plenty of help from Earl Woods, Adrian Browna and Adrian Sanchez.
“They have a lot of guys that have contributed for them,” King said.
The winner of the district tournament championship will be the highest seed, and most likely get one of the top eight seeds in the Class 5A tournament. But King isn’t so sure the entire district doesn’t deserve top-eight consideration.
“You don’t have, outside of the La Cueva/Eldorado/Sandia district, a district that has three teams with 14 or more wins,” King said. “I don’t think it’s too big a stretch to think that three of the top eight teams in the state are in this district.”
CHS BOYS CAPSULE
Clovis (14-6, 0-0 District 4-5A) at Hobbs (17-5, 0-1)
7 p.m. today
On the air: KCLV-AM 1240, KTQM-99.9
Last time out: The Wildcats defeated Lovington 67-60 on Tuesday night for their third-straight victory, while the Eagles lost 69-66 at Carlsbad to open the District 4-5A season to snap their three-game winning streak.
Last meeting: The Eagles claimed the season series 2-1, but Clovis took the District 4-5A tournament championship with a 71-52 win at Hobbs’ Ralph Tasker Arena.
Common opponents: Hobbs and Clovis have both faced Hope Christian, Onate, Rio Rancho, Goddard and Trent Internationale. Both teams went 4-1, with losses to Trent.
Hobbs players to watch: Dane Pannell, Sr, G.; Terrell Wright, Sr, G.
— Compiled by Kevin Wilson