HOBBS — The Cleveland boys’ basketball team became just the second team to ever reach the championship game of the Hobbs Holiday Tournament three straight times.
The Storm won the Hobbs Holiday Tournament in 2018 and again in 2019, but the pandemic forced cancellation of all tournaments except the state tournament.
“It was fun,” Cleveland coach Sean Jimenez said of playing in the Hobbs Holiday Tournament championship game, a 77-53 loss to the host Eagles. “This tournament prepares you district, which I believe we have the hardest district in the state, and it prepares you for the state tournament. So, playing in an atmosphere like this, it truly gets you ready for down the road.”
The Storm got to the championship game after a win Monday over Mayfield (54-40) and a Tuesday victory over Gallup (77-41).
Cleveland led Hobbs early, but not for long. The Storm scored first and led by as many as four points in the first quarter.
But, by the end of the first eight minutes, Hobbs had a 15-14 lead.
The Storm (8-3) took their last lead early in the second quarter, 16-15, but that would be the last time.
Hobbs outscored the Storm 23-9 in the second quarter, sending the Storm into the break trailing 38-23. Cleveland fell further behind in the third quarter as it was outscored again, this time 23-16.
Cole Savage and Elijah Brody earned All-Tournament honors. Brody finished the tournament with 32 points and 10 rebounds, while Savage added 23 points and 10 boards.
“They are a good team,” Jimenez said. “They got after our young dudes and our young dudes didn’t respond so well in the first half. When you get that big of a lead at halftime, it is tough to come back from.”
The Storm open the APS Metro Championships Tuesday at 7:15 p.m., when they’ll meet Hope Christian at Cibola High School. Cleveland got the 4 seed, Hope is the 13.