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20110111_Sharyland-v-McAllen-Memorial-Boys-Basketball_037Simply put, a .500 start for the Sharyland Rattlers in District 30-5A boys basketball is disappointing.

“We got a lot of work to do,” says Head Coach David Keith, whose team is now 2-2 after losing to Memorial on Tuesday and to Rowe on the first day of district play. (See Tuesday’s game story and photos online at www.progresstimes.net.)

Keith says work needs to be done in the area of free throws and hitting big shots down the stretch. The  two losses came more or less because of deficiency in those two areas. Against Memorial, the Rattlers held a fluctuating lead nearly the entire game until the final two minutes when missed free throws and blown opportunities doomed the Rattlers. Free throws in particular have been painful because, as Keith says, the extra attention given to the charity stripe in practice is not coming to fruition in games.

“We work on it [free throws], we [do] two or three more drills on it [and] we've done a few corrections with a few things,” but the ball still refuses to drop.

20110111_Sharyland-v-McAllen-Memorial-Boys-Basketball_039However, despite needing work in those two areas, make no mistake about it, this Sharyland team has an immense amount of potential. A few big shots and improvement at the line will lead the Rattlers to great heights.

In fact, the boys have already proven to be top notch contenders. Prior to district play and before the Christmas break, Shary took on the Edinburg Bobcats, who have consistently been ranked in the state's top twenty. Playing at home, the Rattlers used momentum to win 57-51 after entering the final quarter down 41-36. Sharyland is the only team from the Valley to beat the Bobcats.

To capture that success again, the team will be counting on some key players. It all starts in the back court with team captains Fred Ramos and Joaquin Pistokache. The two guards lead a squad that is disciplined, focused and confident in running Keith's offense. Ramos, a senior, is a great ball handler who can drive and finish. Junior Pistokache is the team's most athletic player who is quick, possesses sound fundamentals and the team's best defender.

The two captains are not alone. Senior Matthew Ramirez also helps out in the back court. 6'4'' junior Mauricio Ollervides provides height for the Rattlers alongside senior Albert Villegas. Villegas has shown to come up big. In the win against Edinburg, the senior led the team in points with 20. Senior guard Brenden Quinn and John Horner also contribute.

From here on out, Coach Keith is hoping his guys can show up each night to hit their free throws and the big shots when needed. The road isn't easy. After playing a struggling Mission tonight, Shary must travel to La Joya to take on an improved Coyote squad who has their minds set on the post season. From there, the Rattler's take on McHi before their schedule starts all over again with Rowe. Those three games will be critical in getting a feel for where Sharyland will place.

If the free throws begin to fall and Ramos and Pistokache extend their strong games to last-second heroics, the Rattlers will be alright. For now though, a .500 start won't do.

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