CHS BOYS BASKETBALL: Cats look to contain Hobbs star

Senior guard Jaden Isler, center, and the rest of the Clovis Wildcats hope to avenge an earlier District 4-5A loss to Hobbs tonight at The Rock and force a coin flip for the top seed in next week’s district tournament. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

Layne Strebeck knows he has a tall order on his hands tonight — in more ways than one.

A 6-foot-4 junior, Strebeck will have primary responsibility for containing 6-foot-7 Hobbs junior Jeff Taylor when Clovis High hosts the Eagles in a showdown tonight for the District 4-5A boys title at Rock Staubus Gym.

Taylor scored 38 points — 14 in the final quarter when Strebeck spent a lot of time on the bench in foul trouble — as Hobbs (24-1, 3-0 district) won the first meeting 99-93 in Hobbs earlier this month.

“I know what I have to do,” said Strebeck, who expects to get some help from his teammates on Taylor. “He’s going to get his points, but what I have to do is box him out and keep him from getting rebounds.”

If the Cats (21-3, 2-1) win tonight, a coin flip immediately after the game will determine the top seed for next week’s district tournament. The top seed hosts the championship game Saturday night.

CHS coach J.D. Isler said the Eagles, who have won 24 in a row since a season-opening 73-71 loss at Odessa High, are similar to Rio Rancho, the other team to beat the Cats (twice) this season.

“Maybe the difference is that Taylor is a little more dominant than anybody Rio Rancho has,” Isler said.

Regardless of tonight’s outcome, it’s likely the teams will meet once and perhaps twice more before the season is out.

Isler said the key is not to let any of Taylor’s teammates go off.

“He’s going to get his (points), but we have to do a better job on (senior guard Nick) Youmans and (junior forward Jordan) Manney,” he said.

Those two combined for 39 points in the first meeting.

Clovis rallied from a 10-0 deficit to take a 54-49 halftime lead, but Hobbs held the Cats to just 13 points in the third quarter to regain control.

“We got away from what we do,” Strebeck said. “We just have to keep attacking them. We know we can beat them.”

Hobbs at Clovis, 7 p.m.
Records: Hobbs 24-1 (3-0 District 4-5A), Clovis 21-3 (2-1).
Last meeting: Hobbs 99, Clovis 93 on Feb. 2 at Hobbs.
At stake: District lead. If Clovis wins, the teams will flip a coin to determine the top seed in next week’s district tournament.
Of note: Hobbs has won 24 in a row since a season-opening 73-71 loss at Odessa High. … In the Wildcats’ three losses this season, both teams have scored in the 90s — 97-95 (overtime) and 97-91 against Rio Rancho, and 99-93 at Hobbs.