Hobbs' Andrew Barrientes looks to pass Tuesday
during the Eagles' loss at Odessa Permian.
Hobbs struggled to get anything going against a Permian team, while talented, that probably isn't 23 points better than the Eagles. Aaron Ibarra was the only Eagle to score more than five points as he led the team with 22 points and eight rebounds. Nobody else was really looking for their shot or being aggressive, leading to the Eagles' lowest scoring output since Jan. 10, 2006, when Hobbs lost to Gadsden 43-41.
But help is on the way for the Eagles.
Hobbs should get a giant piece of its puzzle back this Saturday against Oñate (Hobbs' first game against a New Mexico opponent) as Dane Pannell told me he'll return from injury after missing the last four games. The junior isn't leading the team in scoring (he's second at 14.6 points per game), but is probably the Eagles' most dangerous player with his ability to score in a variety of ways while also being a strong passer and rebounder. It will be a huge lift for Hobbs to get him back.
Another lift the Eagles may get as soon as the Hobbs Holiday Tournament is Earl Woods. The junior post didn't start the season with the team, but was at Monday's practice and could give the Eagles some much-needed size in the paint with his 6-foot-3 frame, long wingspan and athleticism. During practice it was clear the difference he makes on the court for the Eagles.
A wild card for Hobbs could be stand-out soccer player Hunter Jecius, who joined the team Wednesday. Six-foot-3, athletic and, like Woods, featuring a long wingspan, Jecius' size and speed alone could be an asset to the Eagles as he's built perfect for Mike Smith's trapping style of defense. I watched him at practice and you can tell he's played a lot of basketball. Jecius has a nice touch from 15 feet in. I think once he gets up to speed with the system, I'd expect him to see some solid minutes and give the Eagles a much-needed boost when it comes to rebounding and defense while also being able to score a few baskets here and there.
Something I didn't mention in my last Hobbs hoops blog was Ibarra's 39-point effort against El Paso Chapin on Saturday is tied for 22nd on Hobbs' all-time single-game scoring list with an impressive set of names – Larry Robinson, Tony Benford, Troy Brewer, Brett Ward and Jeff Taylor Jr.
Ibarra is now averaging 23.1 points per game for the Eagles and has scored more than 20 points in each of the team's last six games. Ibarra is our Hobbs News-Sun Athlete of the Week, so go to hobbsnews.com and read my article in Thursday's paper on him and what he feels like has been the key to his break-out season (won't be available until after 11 p.m. Wednesday, and yes, it is a paid subscription site).