Friday, March 2, 2012

Keys to victory for Hobbs boys and girls in first round of state

  It's that time of year again when one loss sends a team back home for good wondering what could have been. It's state tournament time, always a great week of hoops in New Mexico.
  Both the Hobbs boys and girls are top-six seeds in the tournament (Eagles are No. 6, Lady Eagles No. 5) and have a chance to make noise in the state playoffs.
  Here are my keys to victory for both the Hobbs boys and girls in their first round games.

No. 6 Hobbs vs. No. 11 Sandia
 7 p.m. Saturday, Tasker Arena
  1. Dictate tempo: It's no secret what Hobbs wants to do – press, run and score. Sandia didn't play a team this season with the tempo of Hobbs and if the Eagles can get the Matadors in an up-tempo contest it should benefit Hobbs, particularly in the final two quarters.
  2. Stand-out players have to step up: Hobbs needs both of its leading scorers Aaron Ibarra and Dane Pannell clicking at the same time. When the Eagles are playing well, both are contributing heavily. Lately it's been one or the other (or neither in the case of the 4-5A Tournament title game loss against Clovis). If Ibarra and Pannell get it going, it just makes it that much easier for players such as Austin Montoya, Andrew Barrientes and Earl Woods to get their points and make it incredibly difficult for opponents to pick their poison.
  3. Use Tasker Arena crowd: Sandia hasn't played a game outside the Albuquerque-metro area this season. The Matadors likely haven't been to a hostile environment such as Tasker Arena with 3,000-plus fans screaming for their Eagles. If Hobbs can jump on Sandia early and get the crowd into the game (it would also benefit Hobbs if the crowd was proactive instead of reactive), the Matadors may struggle with the moment in arguably the most famous high school gym in the state.

No. 5 Hobbs girls vs. No. 12 Oñate
7 p.m. Friday, Tasker Arena
  1. Get the ball inside: Hobbs' bread and butter all season has been the post play of Danielle Patterson, Evyn Gallegos and Halle Woods. If the Lady Eagles can get one, two or all three of them going, it's going to be tough for Oñate to stop and give the Hobbs guards more room to work and more open shots on the perimeter.
  2. Don't be hesitant: At times the Lady Eagles hesitate to take open shots. Hobbs has good shooters, and as long as it's in the context of the offense, they shouldn't be afraid to take open looks.
  3. Keep the D strong: Hobbs is one of the best defensive teams in the state and must stay focused on that end of the floor. If the Lady Eagles can contest each shot and make Oñate earn every basket, Hobbs should be moving on to the state quarterfinals.