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“It's been a struggle,” says Saenz of his first six months on the job.
There have been numerous hurdles the team has had to overcome since Saenz took over in mid-July for departing coach Charles Hickman.
July is three months away from when the basketball season officially began but when you are trying to bring in a new system and culture, time is short and precious.
Compounding the problem is last year's team had two players transfer following the season. Danny Rios went to Edinburg North while Ricky Salinas, due to rezoning, ended up at cross town rival and district foe La Joya.
Despite the transfers, Saenz isn't ready to back down nor let his team do so. The coach purposely designed this year's schedule to push the boys to not give up. The coach did so by limiting games with sub-4A teams. While other teams schedule the patty cake teams before district, Saenz knew 30-5A is as tough as there is in the Valley and his team needed to be prepared for the competition.
Thus, competing in district will be a struggle for the first year head coach. There are plenty of teams ready to take the district crown. Something the Lobos can only dream of for now.
However, the team has plenty of players ready to step up. Saenz's starting five are Mario de la Garza, Charlie Calderon, Victor Contreras, Dominick Garza and Hector Gallegos. Calderon runs the point and Dominick is the inside guy the team hopes to go to often.
“[Dominick] is my hustle player,” says Saenz. Adding the attribute is for better or worse as Garza sometimes finds himself in foul trouble.
So far, the team has found mild success in district. The squad started off district with a pounding of district newcomer Mission, 48-36. In the win, Garza scored 19.
The team's second district match-up, pitted the team against the Coyotes. Though the squad fell down early, the fourth quarter saw the Lobos find a new burst energy that propelled them back into the game before falling in the final minute.
Though fans were treated with a heroic comeback, Saenz wants his guys to come out of the gate more prepared and with the same energy they had in the fourth.
After all, the new coach has a new program and culture to install.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.