Clovis senior Bud Willis sails through the air past Hobbs senior Ervin Youmans for two points during the first half of Tuesday’s game at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. CNJ photo by Eric Kluth
By Rick White
Halftime couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Clovis Wildcats.
Fighting back from an early eight-point deficit and backed by a boisterous home crowd, Clovis gained the lead and the momentum in the final minute before intermission.
It didn’t last long as Hobbs scoring machine Ervin Youmans tallied 14 of his career-high 40 points in the third quarter to pace the Eagles to a 75-68 win Tuesday in a District 4-5A boys basketball game at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.
Clovis coach J.D. Isler was exasperated at his team’s third-quarter meltdown as Youmans hit a pair of 3-pointers and Benny Baeza added another trey, fueling a 19-4 Hobbs run in the first four minutes of the second half.
“We got away from what we do every day in practice that makes us successful,” Isler said. “We got impatient and took some questionable shots on the fast break.
“Hobbs would just push the ball back up court and got some good looks.”
Clovis’ sixth-straight loss in the long-time rivalry leaves the Wildcats (17-5, 2-2) two games behind district-leading Eldorado midway through the district season.
Hobbs (18-4, 3-1) remains a game out of first.
Hobbs coach Russ Gilmore said he was happy to be down just one at halftime.
“We put then on the free-throw line 14 times in the first half and were only down a point, so I thought we were in pretty good shape,” Gilmore said. “I just told them to stop putting (Clovis) at the free-throw line and take care of the ball.”
Hobbs stretched its lead to 19, at 64-45, 30 seconds into the fourth quarter on a Daniel Ramos jumper. Clovis then came storming back behind the play of Justin Pinckney, who 18 of his team-high 24 points in the second half, and near-perfect free-throw shooting (13-of-14 in the fourth quarter).
Clovis crawled as close as 69-65 on Tizrick Phillips’ free-throw jumper with a little more than a minute to go, but Youmans sealed the win with a layup and a pair of free throws.
Dominique Easterlin added 13 points for Clovis, and Bud Wills finished with 12.
Youmans, a 5-foot-10 senior, hurt Clovis with the dribble-drive early and then took his game outside (four 3-pointers) in the second half. He was also 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
“He did a good job of getting to the hole early,” Isler said. “And when he gets his confidence, he’s pretty tough.”
Gilmore said he warned his team even with the huge lead the game wasn’t over.
“I told them that Clovis had a lot of fight in them, that they weren’t going to quit,” Gilmore said.
“We stopped being aggressive and got complacent.”
Isler thought Clovis could take advantage of what he thought was a suspect Hobbs inside game.
“Every time we got the ball inside, we’d score or get fouled,” Isler said. “Why we went away from that I don’t know.
“Sometimes the emotion of the game gets to our kids.”
Hobbs 75, Clovis 68
Hobbs (18-4, 3-1) — Jesse Nelson 0 0-0 0, Jeremy French 0 0-0 0, Daniel Ramos 1 0-1 2, Benny Baeza 3 1-2 8, Ervin Youmans 14 8-8 40, Mike Floyd 2 0-0 4, DeShon Sanders 4 1-2 9, Rob Clarke 2 0-0 4, B.J. Mereedyth 3 1-2 7, Phillip Wheat 0 1-2 1, Duncan Fabri 0 0-0 0, Matt Davis 0 0-0 0. Totals 29 12-17 75.
Clovis (17-5, 2-2) — Bud Willis 4 4-4 12, Tizrick Phillips 2 1-2 5, Zac Watters 0 0-0 0, Elliott Hita 2 2-2 6, John Props 1 2-2 4, Justin Pinckney 8 5-8 24, Dominique Easterlin 3 7-8 13, Mario Caswell 2 0-2 4. Totals 22 21-28 68.
Hobbs 18 14 28 15 — 75
Clovis 14 19 12 23 — 68
3-pointers — Hobbs, Youmans 4, Baeza. Clovis, Pinckney 3. JV score — Hobbs 79, Clovis 74. Sophomore score — Hobbs 89, Clovis 54.