Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hobbs' Smith gets win in first game as coach, Eagles have room to grow

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Hobbs coach Mike Smith picked up his first win
Tuesday against Midland Lee in Midland.
  It was far from pretty, but Hobbs first-year coach Mike Smith will take it knowing his Eagles have a long way to go still.
  The Eagles won 82-69 against Midland Lee Tuesday night at Midland Lee High School in their season opener despite 31 turnovers, foul issues and an inability to keep the Rebels off the glass.
  Smith – a Hobbs native – called it an ugly win after the game and added there are several things to correct between now and the Eagles' next game – their home opener Nov. 29 against Midland High.
  Hobbs struggled to take care of the ball against an athletic Lee squad that was also pressing for most of the game. Luckily for Hobbs, the Eagles' press forced the Rebels into 29 turnovers of their own.
  The big difference in the game was free-throw shooting as Hobbs went 30-for-39 from the charity stripe while Lee was 10-for-25.
  The Eagles also got themselves into foul trouble. Point guard Austin Montoya picked up four first-half fouls while Aaron Ibarra and Dane Pannell each had three at the break – three players that are expected to be Hobbs' top scorers this season. The score was tied at 37 and it appeared things may get rough for Hobbs.
  It looked even worse when Ibarra picked up his fourth foul within the first minute of the third quarter with the score still tied.
  Instead, the Eagles went on to outscore Lee 23-9 in the third quarter to build a 14-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Players such as sophomore Jordan Chavarria (nine points) and juniors Terrell Wright  (five points) and Adrian Sanchez (four points) stepped in and played big minutes while senior starting guard Andrew Barrientes came through with a 15-point performance to pick up the slack as well.
  Looking back, this game is a blessing for Hobbs because its bench was the biggest question mark heading into the season. In the first game, the bench was forced to play big minutes and it played well. Has to give Smith more confidence in his bench going forward.
  Pannell had a double-double for the Eagles with 20 points and 20 boards, and despite foul trouble and fouling out in the fourth quarter, Ibarra had 12 points and six rebounds and Montoya had 11 points. If those three don't get in foul trouble, Hobbs probably wins by 20-plus points.
  Overall, Hobbs has to be happy with this win knowing they committed so many turnovers, played without two of its top three scorers for much of the contest and was outrebounded yet still found a way to score 82 points (Hobbs didn't hit the 80-point mark in a game last season until its 14th contest and only did it three times) and pick up the win.
  Those who watched the game saw there is plenty of room to grow with this Eagle squad, which is encouraging for Hobbs fans who are hoping to forget about last season's 12-17 mark – its worst season since 1948.