Clovis faces huge challenge

Layne Strebeck and the rest of the Cats head to Hobbs for a match up between the Class 5A perennial powerhouse schools. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Greg Price: CNJ sports writer

Hobbs junior Jeff Taylor is already drawing the attention of Big 12 Conference schools such as Texas Tech and Kansas.

And for good reason. At 6-foot-7 and 200 pounds, Taylor is the only player in Class 5A averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds a game.

Clovis junior Layne Strebeck isn’t worried. He sees Taylor and the rest of the No. 2-ranked Eagles as a challenge the Wildcats can overcome.

Clovis (17-2) opens its District 4-5A schedule today at Hobbs (21-1, 1-0 district) in a 7 p.m. matchup of perennial Class 5A powerhouses.

Clovis coach J.D. Isler said the Cats hope to contain Taylor.

“We can’t put him at the free-throw line because he shoots a lot of free throws a game and he shoots them well,” Isler said. “We feel like Mike (Lewis) and Layne match up to him well, even though they’re shorter, so we just have to do a good job of keeping him off the boards.”

Although the Cats are at a size disadvantage most nights, they have averaged almost four more rebounds per game than their opponents.

Last season, Clovis gave away a seven-point lead with under 2 1/2 minutes left and Hobbs stole a victory in overtime. Hobbs also beat the Wildcats in the district championship game.

Strebeck and junior Jaden Isler said Clovis is a more mature team this season.
“We know we’re a better team than we were last year,” Jaden Isler said. “I feel everyone this year is more focused on what we need to do.”

Hobbs coach Russ Gilmore said the teams have similar transition offenses and fullcourt pressure defenses, and stressed the importance of the matchup.

“When you have only three teams in the district, you don’t have much time to make up ground,” Gilmore said. “There’s not a lot of differnce between us, but we play a little better inside.”

What: Clovis at Hobbs
When: 7 p.m. today
On the net: Clovis at Hobbs will be the game of the week on the site at NMAAnetwork.com.
On the radio: KICA-FM 98.3.
Hobbs players to watch: Jeff Taylor, 6-7 P, Jr.; Jordan Manney, 6-1 P, Jr.; Jordan Manney, 6-1 P, Jr.; Nick Youmans, 6-0 G, Sr.
Quotable: “I’ve kind of learned, as I’ve matured a little bit through these past couple seasons, that if you just go in and do what you can to help, everything falls into place.”
— Jaden Isler
Clovis junior guard, on how he’s learned to rely more on his teammates.