An eight-game winning streak feels pretty good for Clovis. A 13-game streak would be even better.
That’s the number the Wildcats would need for their first Class 5A title since 1979, and an 80-51 rout of rival Hobbs at Rock Staubus Gym was nothing short of another confidence boost.
“We’re not one-dimensional,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said after the win, which wrapped up the District 4-5A regular-season title and secured a state tournament berth for the Wildcats. “We score a lot of different ways. We’ve got a lot of character. The season boils down to the last five games now, and those are the teams that win.”
Clovis (23-2, 4-0 district) took command with an 11-2 run in the first quarter, and dominated the final 10 minutes to turn a comfortable win into a rout.
Lathan Lieb scored 21 points to lead four Wildcats in double figures — and it would have been five had sophomore John Dawson notched two more points in garbage time.
Hobbs, meanwhile, showed why it has struggled mightily by Eagles standards — 15 is the school’s highest loss total since 1951-52, when legendary coach Ralph Tasker went 10-16 in his third year. The Eagles didn’t grab a rebound for the first 5:20, and trailed by double figures for the final 12 minutes.
The Eagles (11-15, 2-2) will host Carlsbad Thursday in the District 4-5A tournament, with the winner coming back to The Rock on Saturday night.
Craig Cook scored 12 points, while senior forward Lincoln Nora had eight rebounds to go with 11 points, including an exclamation point dunk late in the third quarter to give Clovis a 49-34 advantage.
D.J. Blackmon scored 20 points on an 8-of-14 shooting night. But he felt the key was defense, including 23 Hobbs turnovers and a 1-of-7 night from Erik Manchaca, who had 26 points when the teams met two weeks ago.
“We stayed close on 22,” Blackmon said of Menchaca, who finished with three points. “We stayed close, but we didn’t seal him off or anything.”
Sophomore Dane Pannell led Hobbs with 17 points, but only two other Eagles scored more than three.
“We stayed close to (Menchaca), tried to give a little space to Pannell,” Isler said. “I thought we did a good job on him. He got 17, but we made him work for everything he got.”
Hobbs coach Russ Gilmore declined comment following the game.