Jaden Hobbs in midst of remarkable stretch for Tigers

Rick Peterson Jr.
Hays Daily News
FHSU's Jaden Hobbs looks to dribble around a defender earlier this season against Emporia State. Hobbs is coming off a 26-point, 12-assist outing against Pittsburg State.

Fort Hays State's Jaden Hobbs is playing at a level that rivals some of the best stretches in recent program history. 

After being slowed by foul trouble in Fort Hays State's season opener against Washburn, Hobbs has been outstanding in each of the 10 games since. 

Hobbs is averaging 17 points and 5.7 assists on the season for the 9-2 Tigers. The senior from Alva, Okla., is shooting a staggering 56% from 3-point range on the season (38 of 68). 

"It's been as good of stretch as we've had anybody have," said 13th-year FHSU coach Tony Hobson. "We've had some goods ones, too, with Tatyana (Legette) here a couple years ago, (Kate) Lehman, Kate Edwards had a couple good stretches in there. You can just go down and name all of our really good players and they had some stretches. But I don't know one that's lasted this long."

Hobbs, in her second year with the program after transferring from Oklahoma State, is coming off arguably her best game at FHSU. She scored 26 points and dished out an eye-popping 12 assists in FHSU's 85-73 win at Pittsburg State on Saturday. 

"It's not a secret, everybody's trying to key in and slow her down and stop her; that makes it even more remarkable," Hobson said. "I think when a player is well rounded and isn't just one dimensional, they're a lot harder to stop. She can beat you in a variety of ways. It might be with the pass, getting to the basket or the 3-pointer. She might take a charge. When you do more than one thing I think you're harder to key on."

Hobson said Hobbs' play is also boosting the confidence of the players around her. 

"It's been a great stretch. We just hope she can keep it up," Hobson said. "I think the other players around her have responded and are moving better without the ball because they know they're going to get it for good shots."

Back-to-back vs. UNK

The Tiger women are getting set to face MIAA-leading Nebraska-Kearney (12-0) twice in a three-day span. 

The teams will meet for the first time this season at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Kearney, before turning around to play their originally scheduled contest in Hays at 2 p.m. Saturday, with the men's game to follow. 

"It will be a little strange," Hobson said of playing a team back to back. "We've done it a couple times before. But these are such important games and high-intensity games, it will be interesting. You don't have a lot of time for adjustments. I think both of us know each other's teams well enough that that's not going to be a major deal."

The Tigers and Lopers were originally slated to play in Kearney on December 5, but the contest was postponed because of COVID-19 protocol. The game was then set for Tuesday of this week, but had to be pushed back two more days because of the winter storm in the area. 

The Lopers didn't lose any players to graduation off last year's 26-6 squad. Elisa Backes leads a well balanced UNK scoring attack with 10.1 points per game. 

Wagner takes advantage of start

The Tigers used a different starting five for the Pittsburg State game, inserting freshman Katie Wagner into the lineup for her first start. 

Hobson said he decided to start Wagner instead of 6-foot-3 post player Olivia Hollenbeck so the Tigers would be better equipped to handle the Gorillas' guard-oriented attack.

"Really just the fact that I wanted to have (Wagner) switch out and guard their guards on the perimeter," Hobson said. "It wasn't anything negative about Olivia. I thought we would be better suited to hold their perimeter game in control."

Wagner responded by scoring 16 points and grabbing nine rebounds. 

"I thought she played great," Hobson said. "She's such a tenacious rebounder; she really has a nose for the ball. And then she plays with such a high energy, high motor. Those kind of people you don't like to play against because you can't rest."