Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Surging 10th-ranked Eagles may be peaking just in time for district

Brad Cox/News-Sun
Hobbs' Austin Montoya has scored 17 points
in each of his last two games.
  That's the Hobbs boys basketball team's scoring average in its last five games since losing to No. 1 Las Cruces High 88-67 on Jan. 14.
  The 10th-ranked Eagles are 4-1 over that stretch, winning their last four games since losing at top-ranked Class 4A and undefeated Roswell High 94-90 in a game the Eagles could've won as well.
  It appears the thumping Hobbs took from the top-ranked Bulldawgs got the attention of the Eagles. That loss told Hobbs it had to get better if it wanted to compete with the state's elite – in particular the Eagles' execution on their full-court press and half-court offense.
  Both were issues through the first 16 games of the season. Hobbs was giving up way too many easy baskets when teams were breaking the press due to bad rotation. On the other end of the floor, every team under the sun is going to zone the Eagles to try and slow down the tempo – and it was working due to Hobbs' inability to score in the half court.
  Over the last five games, however, Hobbs is executing with much more precision on both ends of the floor.
  These improvements have enabled the Eagles to force teams into their up-tempo style of play in Hobbs' last five games. It usually plays out that Hobbs opponents fall behind by around five to 10 points in the first half and feel they have to speed up the tempo to catch up.
  But much like trying to frantically squirm out of quick sand, it only makes matters worse as the Eagles begin to run their opponent out of the gym.
  The Eagles (15-7 overall) are hoping this momentum built over their last five games can give them a boost when District 4-5A play starts against Carlsbad 7 p.m. today at Tasker Arena.
  It's crucial Hobbs doesn't overlook Carlsbad (7-11 on the season) and stub its toe at home (where the Eagles are 9-1 this season) with the Eagles' game at Clovis on Friday looming. Carlsbad is going to come in and play hard to try and get a win for first-year coach and former Hobbs assistant Jamaal Brown.
  If Hobbs can dictate the tempo and force the Cavemen to go up and down the floor with them, it should equal an Eagles victory. Carlsbad hasn't won a game this season when its opponent reaches the 60-point mark. Hobbs is averaging 77.9 points per game this season (helped by its recent scoring outburst).