Hobbs takes 4-5A battle

Clovis’ Michael Lewis battles Hobbs’ Jeff Taylor for a rebound during Friday’s District 4-5A clash at Rock Staubus Gym. The Eagles wrapped up the regular-season district title with a 97-86 win over the Wildcats. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Greg Price: CNJ sports writer

Like a military general, Clovis coach J.D. Isler compared the Wildcats and Hobbs’ rivalry as a war with numerous battles that bleed into one another.

Hobbs won the second battle 97-86 in front of a sellout crowd Friday night at Rock Staubus Gym capturing the No. 1 seed in the District 4-5A tournament and the regular season title.

The Cats (21-4, 2-2) had trouble closing out on Hobbs’ shooters, as the Eagles hit 11 3-pointers in the game, and getting back on defense.

Clovis senior Michael Lewis scored a game-high 27 points, and junior Jaden Isler added 22.

“They were focusing a lot on our 3-point shooting tonight and that left me open,” Lewis said. “But we didn’t play transition defense and they got easy layups.”

Hobbs’ highly touted junior Jeff Taylor netted 23 points — including an emphatic two-handed, 360-degree dunk in the third quarter — and senior Nick Youmans squirted through the Wildcats for another 23.

However, it was Hobbs senior guard Heith Carver who did in the Wildcats, sinking six 3-pointers against a collapsing Clovis defense as part of a 21-point night.

Hobbs (25-1, 4-0) stretched the lead to 85-70 midway through the fourth quarter. Clovis came within five in the final minute on an Isler 3-pointer, but Taylor and junior Derrek Peterson went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line to finish off the regular season series sweep.

“The positive was we really wanted to come out in the third quarter and have a good start,” J.D. Isler said. “I thought we really needed to go back inside with the ball, but then you’re starting to run out of time and you gotta have some threes.”

Clovis held a 40-33 advantage with under two minutes left in the second quarter, but Hobbs countered with an 11-0 run to end the half.

Hobbs coach Russ Gilmore said despite the victory, the Eagles were often impatient on offense and didn’t give Taylor enough touches.

The 6-foot-7 Taylor scored 38 points in the team’s first meeting and is averaging 28 points a game.

“We had some mental lapses, and our shot selection leaves something to be desired,” Gilmore said. “We were hitting our shots, and then not hitting them, and we have to understand sometimes we have to pull it out and look to Jeff more.”

Hobbs was ahead 44-40 at halftime.

After Clovis scored the first seven points of the third quarter, the Eagles responded with a 19-4 jolt — highlighted by two 3-pointers from Carver — to take a 63-51 advantage.