Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hobbs' Ibarra drops 47 on Deming, NMJC teams make statement

Brad Cox/News-Sun
Hobbs' Aaron Ibarra takes a shot during the
Eagles' win Saturday at Tasker Arena.
  I had started writing a blog post after New Mexico Junior College's men's and women's teams made huge statements by defeating Midland College on Thursday night – probably the most electric night at Caster Activity Center in my six seasons of covering NMJC basketball.
  I was close to posting it and just had to cover Hobbs' Saturday game against Deming (a game I figured nothing too exciting would happen) then come back and read it through one last time before posting it.
  After Aaron Ibarra's performance against Deming, however, I've had to perform a few edits on that blog post.
  The Hobbs senior scored 47 points – including the final nine points to break an 87-87 tie – to help the 5A No. 9 Eagles overcome a sloppy start and flat play to defeat 4A No. 10 Deming 96-87.
  Ibarra's 47 points is the third most in Hobbs history behind Larry Robinson's 49-point performance during a 170-104 Hobbs win over Carlsbad in 1970 and Jeffery Taylor's 48 points during a 100-80 win over Rio Rancho in 2008.
  The more impressive thing is Ibarra probably should've been the first Hobbs player to score 50 as he only had two points in the first quarter and 11 points at the half. Yes, Ibarra scored 36 points in the second half including 20 of Hobbs' 29 points in the fourth quarter to fight off a scrappy Deming squad.
  Ibarra finished 14-for-24 from the field (including 2-for-3 from 3-point range), 17-for-22 from the free-throw line and added nine rebounds, six steals and two assists.
  Hobbs needed it all as it played without second-leading scorer Dane Pannell due to a swollen knee.
  The Eagles take on 4A No. 2 Goddard 7 p.m. Tuesday at Tasker Arena. The Rockets, who beat 5A No. 6 Clovis 61-59 Saturday in Roswell, are 16-1 with their only loss to in-town rival Roswell High (which Hobbs lost to 94-90 in Roswell last Tuesday).
  A memorable night at Caster
Kimberly Ryan/News-Sun
NMJC's Desmond Lee takes a shot against
Midland College on Thursday in Hobbs.
  While Ibarra put up a historic Hobbs performance on Saturday, few nights at Caster Activity Center on the campus of NMJC likely rival what happened Thursday.
  On the same night the NMJC men and women defeated Midland College – perennial powers in both men's and women's basketball. The Midland men have played in the national championship game in three of the last five seasons (winning a national title in 2007 while finishing second in 2009 and 2011) while the Midland women have won Region 5 two of the last four seasons to make it to the national championship tournament.
  What made the wins even better was both games were won in dramatic fashion as both the T-Birds and Lady T-Birds both looked at one point or another that they may get blown out at their own gym.
  The NMJC men trailed 57-44 with just under nine minutes left in the game when the T-Birds went from settling for 3-pointers to attacking the basket. From that point on, NMJC quickly closed the gap and got within three at 59-56 with six minutes left in the game.
  From there, the game was close until NMJC took its first lead at 68-66 with 2:09 remaining. Midland tied the game shortly after before a Desmond Lee drive and score with 1:11 left gave NMJC the lead for good as the T-Birds won 72-68.
  Alex Phillips paced NMJC with 19 points while Dequan Hicks had 12 and Lorelle Waters finished with 10 as NMJC moved to 2-0 in WJCAC play and 14-4 overall.
  The T-Birds are battling to crack the top four in the conference – which has been Midland, Odessa, South Plains and Howard over the last few years – to finally make the Region 5 Tournament. Thursday's win was a nice step toward that goal.
Kimberly Ryan/News-Sun
NMJC's Te'onna Campbell takes a shot
against Midland College on Thursday.
  As for the NMJC women, the Lady T-Birds fell behind in the first 10 minutes of the game 23-8 to the Lady Chaps in a matchup of the two teams picked in the preseason coaches poll to finish at the top of the conference (Midland No. 1, NMJC No. 2).
  But the Lady T-Birds slowly crept back into the game and took its first lead of the contest on a steal and basket by Te'onna Campbell with 11:55 left in the contest to make it 43-42.
  The game went to overtime and clutch 3-pointers by Kya DeGarmo and Stacie Telles helped NMJC to a 65-58 win.
  Campbell led NMJC with 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists, four blocks and two steals. Telles finished with 14 points, Waleska Perez had 11 and Honor Duvall had 10.
  While the Lady T-Birds did go to the regional tournament in 2010, missing it last season should leave a bad taste in the mouth of this team and defeating Midland College (a team that had defeated NMJC earlier this season during the pre-conference tournament) in its WJCAC opener goes a long way toward making it back. At 17-2 overall and now 1-0 in WJCAC play, NMJC is the team to beat in conference now.
  Both teams will be tested Monday as they travel to play Odessa College. The Odessa men are ranked fifth in the country and are 16-2 overall and 1-1 in WJCAC play after losing to No. 2 and undefeated South Plains on Thursday. The Odessa women are 2-0 in conference and 13-5 overall.