By Greg Price: CNJ sports writer
Clovis’ Bryce Hill will make it clear that the Wildcats’ two losses this season to District 4-5A rival Hobbs have hurt.
The Cats (22-4) hope to relieve their pain today when they travel to Hobbs (25-1) for a shot at the district tournament championship in a 7 p.m. clash.
“It’s all we talk about at practice,” Hill said of beating the Eagles. “It feels like we’ve been preparing for this our whole lives. I mean losing to them twice, it hurts.”
In those two losses, the junior guard said the team learned it must play smarter defense, especially getting out on Hobbs’ shooters, and also take smarter shots.
Hobbs junior Jeff Taylor averaged 30.5 points in the two contests, but it was the Eagles’ Nick Youmans and Heith Carver who came up with key shots.
Carver hit six treys while Youmans nailed three from behind the arc on his way to 23 points in the Eagles’ 97-86 win last week at Rock Staubus Gym.
Hill credited the Eagles’ perimeter players for their sharpshooting, but said the Cats possess more athleticism.
“Jeff Taylor is strong, and he’s going to take it to the hole and we have to play strong on him,” Hill said. “But their guards are really no threat to us, and we’re more athletic than them.
“I’m not down-talking them. They’re good guards, but we have more athleticism.”
Clovis coach J.D. Isler said the Cats have played Hobbs well, but poor starts in both games have been a problem.
“Our kids know that we can beat them down here,” Isler said. “We’ve gotten off to a poor start against them in both games.”
Isler said the Cats have been close to victory in both meetings, but added that sometimes the ball hasn’t bounced their way.
“It just seems like we’ve been right there and some things haven’t gone our way,” he said. “We’ve missed some easy shots that we should’ve made, and the momentum swung.”
Hobbs capitalized, he added, and forced Clovis into less desirable shots.
“We’ve got to make easy shots,” Isler said. “We felt like here we got down a little bit and really started taking some tough shots. We need to take great shots for four quarters against them there.”