Monday, December 17, 2012

Slow starts trouble Hobbs as of late

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Hobbs' Dane Pannell fights his way through a pair
of Oñate players Saturday in Las Cruces.
  A troubling trend for the Hobbs boys basketball team reared its ugly head for the fourth consecutive game during the Eagles’ 65-61 victory over Oñate on Saturday.
  No, it’s not the free-throw shooting despite the 6-for-24 performance Saturday. Overall, Hobbs is a good shooting team from the line. The Eagles are just hitting a rough patch in the road and should be fine.  
  This troubling trend is Hobbs’ slow start to games.
  The Eagles fell behind Oñate 14-7 in the opening quarter and had to battle back for the win.  In Hobbs’ last four games (which includes both its losses on its 7-2 record), the Eagles have been outscored 94-52 in the first quarter.
  All of those games have been away from the comforts of Tasker Arena – a place where it’s easy to get amped with the big crowds, the Taskervitch Band and all the other tradition that comes with playing at the legendary venue.
  No doubt, this has been the toughest four-game stretch of the season for Hobbs as the Eagles aren’t falling behind to slouches. Hobbs trailed at some point in the first quarter to Texas 5A No. 21 El Paso Coronado 20-7 (lost 69-54), Texas 4A No. 23 El Paso Hanks 26-14 (won 79-71), prep academy Houston Trent Internationale and its three D-I recruits 27-5 (lost 85-77) and Oñate 14-7 (won 65-61).
  In the two losses, I’ll give credit to Hobbs for battling back against Trent – a team with more physical talent and size. The Eagles were overmatched but showed a lot of guts fighting back.
  But Hobbs was burned in its loss to Coronado due to the slow start.
  That was a winnable game but the Eagles dug themselves too big of a hole. Hobbs eventually took a 34-33 lead in the third quarter only to run out of gas and momentum as Coronado went on a 20-4 run and cruised to the win.
  The point is, top-notch teams are going take advantage of early leads handed to them. Even if a team comes back, the energy burned to do so makes it difficult to sustain the momentum against quality basketball teams.
  Hobbs has proved it can turn it on later in games – mainly due to its relentless full-court press wearing opponents out. The stats show it as Hobbs is tied with its opponents in first-quarter scoring at 158-158.
  In the final three quarters, Hobbs is outscoring its opponents 582-487.
  The Eagles got away with playing from behind again against 3-5 Oñate on Saturday.
  However, teams such as Eldorado, Clovis, La Cueva and Las Cruces aren’t going to be as forgiving.

This column appeared in Sunday's edition of the Hobbs News-Sun.
Clayton Jones is the sports editor of the Hobbs News-Sun. He can be reached at or at 575-391-5431. Follow him on Twitter @ClaytonMJones.