Friday, February 3, 2012

Hobbs vs. Clovis: New Mexico's greatest basketball rivalry

Hobbs News-Sun Photo
Hobbs' Jeffery Taylor (now at Vanderbilt) goes up
for a dunk as Clovis' Jaye Crockett (now at Texas
Tech) defends during a game in 2008.
  Rivalries don't get much better than Hobbs and Clovis boys basketball as the two teams square off tonight at Rock Staubus Gymnasium in Clovis.
  Let me clarify, there IS NOT a rivalry better in New Mexico then when the Eagles and Wildcats take the court at either Tasker Arena or Rock Staubus Gymnasium.
  It doesn't matter if it's a Clovis fan getting a glimpse of black and gold or a Hobbs fan gazing at purple, both see red when looking at the other. Intensity of the players and fans is always turned up to 11 when the two teams take the court against each other.
  I grew up in a metro area (Portland, Ore.) and thought I had an idea of what a high school rivalry was.
  Then six years ago I covered my first Hobbs vs. Clovis basketball game and realized I'd never truly seen a high school rivalry before. Watching 3,500 people stuff into a gym, chant back and forth at each other and ride the emotional highs and lows with their team was an eye-opening experience. 
  What turns it up a notch is it's about representing an entire city. These are one high school towns that love their prep sports. It's why I enjoy being the sports editor at a newspaper in Hobbs - people are passionate about their Eagles (the same can be said about Lovington and its Wildcats, Eunice and its Cardinals, Jal and its Panthers and Tatum and its Coyotes). 
  I'm sure I'd enjoy working in Clovis as well because the Wildcats are No. 1 in that town as well.
  Clovis has had bragging rights over Hobbs the last three seasons, winning seven of the last nine games including four victories in a row and a clean sweep of the Eagles last season (Clovis dominated Hobbs last season, there is no other way to say it). 
  Living in Hobbs, and despite Hobbs leading the overall series 125-40 since the 1949-50 season, I can tell it grinds Eagle fans quite a bit the Wildcats have had their number.
  But then again, Hobbs fans have the ultimate "scoreboard" material.
  No matter how many times Clovis beats Hobbs, Eagle fans will always point toward the 16 state championship banners hanging at Tasker Arena compared to the four for Clovis at The Rock, including none since 1979 and only one in the last 49 years (Hobbs has won all 16 of its state titles over that period of time).
  What makes it even sweeter for Hobbs fans is the Eagles are 3-0 against Clovis in state title games (1980, 2001 and 2008).
  Don't lie, Hobbs fans. I've been at those games in Clovis where the Eagles are getting beat by over 20 points and the Clovis faithful are wearing you out and from that corner at the top of The Rock I start hearing, "SIX-TEEN TI-TLES" over and over again. I'm not hating on it because there isn't a comeback to that.
  When everything is said and done, however, I believe these two fan bases have respect for one another. None would ever go on record saying it, but you know it's there.