Sunday, January 8, 2012

No. 8 Eagles break mini skid, close out Rio Rancho Saturday at Tasker

Kimberly Ryan/News-Sun
Hobbs' Dane Pannell scored 16 points
during a win over Rio Rancho.
  After squandering away two solid second-half leads in its last two games (leading to losses to Lawton, Okla., 89-83, and Seminole, 70-69), the No. 8 Hobbs boys basketball team closed out an opponent Friday by beating Rio Rancho 73-60 at Tasker Arena.
  As I said in my last blog, there are too many good players on this team for the Eagles not to be closing out games. Hobbs was led by Aaron Ibarra's fourth 30-point-plus performance of the season as the senior scored 34. Dane Pannell followed up his 25-point, 22-rebound, six-assist effort in a loss to Seminole on Thursday with 16 points and six rebounds.
  The one difference Friday to those two losses was Hobbs didn't lead for the majority of the game. The Eagles trailed Rio Rancho for most of the second and third quarters (and to be honest, looked pretty rough for long stretches in the first half) before a 10-0 run put Hobbs up 47-42 heading into the fourth quarter.
  But instead of getting conservative and losing their defensive intensity as they did against Lawton and Seminole in the fourth quarter, the Eagles stayed aggressive on both ends and built on the lead to eventually win by 13 points thanks to forcing eight turnovers in the fourth quarter (Hobbs also forced 11 in the third). 
  Hobbs coach Mike Smith said the players were more vocal during timeouts in the fourth quarter, something he liked and I have to agree with him. Sometimes players need to call a spade a spade and hold each other accountable for their actions on the court. It can't just be the coach barking at players. The words of a peer working toward the same goal as you is a powerful tool.
  Hobbs now sits at 10-5 on the season and 3-0 against Class 5A New Mexico opponents with unranked Alamogordo at home on Friday and top-ranked Las Cruces High on the road Saturday.