Wildcats prepare for Hobbs

Clovis guard Jaden Isler is questionable for tonight’s game against Hobbs with an injured ankle

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

For someone such as Clovis junior Rishard Matthews who has never seen much less played in a Hobbs-Clovis basketball game, all he can go by is what his teammates have told him.

“They just said that (the Hobbs players) are all just good at basketball,” Matthews said. “They’re like gym rats who just play basketball all the time.”

The Wildcats (13-6, 0-0 in district) host District 4-5A rival Eagles (16-9, 1-0) at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.

The Clovis High School athletic office said lower level seats at The Rock are almost sold out, and they expect the upper level to be at capacity by game time.

“I haven’t seen (The Rock) packed for basketball,” Matthews said. “That will be good, especially if we come out with a win while everyone is here.”

Clovis senior Jonathan Sweet said he enjoys the rivalry’s intense, and sometimes hostile, atmosphere.

“I think it’s fun when we’ve got a sell out crowd,” Sweet said. “Both student sections are going nuts at each other, people are getting kicked out for yelling vulgar things — I think that’s fun.”

The atmosphere is exactly what concerns Clovis coach J.D. Isler.

“In a game like this you’ve got to make sure you don’t get caught up in the atmosphere and just stay focused and play the game,” Isler said. “What we’re really trying to get them to focus on is that if you win this game you take a big step toward the district championship.

“The fact that it’s a district game is more important than the fact that it’s Hobbs.”

Isler said his team will try to slow down Hobbs’ dangerous senior tandem of Austin Turner and Sampson Munoz. Turner is Class 5A’s leading scorer with 21.6 points per game and Munoz is fifth at 16.8.

“You may not stop those type of players, but we’ve got to at least keep them from dominating the game,” Isler said. “I think that’s a key.”

Isler said another key will be how his team handles Hobbs’ press. The Clovis coach said starting point guard Jaden Isler, his son, is questionable for the game after injuring his ankle Monday in practice.

Hobbs coach Russ Gilmore said he knows the Eagles are in for a tough game.

“We’re just trying to be prepared to play an excellent team,” Gilmore said. “Their guard play is excellent and getting better all the time. We know we’ll have to play our best basketball to have a chance to win.”

The Clovis guard trio of Jaden Isler, Cody Thornsbury, and Bryce Hill all average double figures in scoring, lead by Thornsbury at 14.7 ppg.

Hobbs has already notched one district win, beating Carlsbad 83-58 on Tuesday.

Despite the lopsided loss, J.D. Isler warns of taking the Cavemen (8-14, 0-1) for granted.

“The scary thing about Carlsbad is they beat Roswell High, and Roswell High beat both us and Hobbs,” he said. “They’ve lost to Portales, Roswell Goddard, and got beaten badly by Hobbs. The fear is, you don’t know which Carlsbad team is going to show up.”