During this last month of January, no basketball team amongst the Big Six schools has been as successful as the Veterans Memorial Lady Patriots. In their nine games played in the first month of the New Year, the Patriots have gone 8-1, only losing to Hidalgo. The amazing run has put Ralph Cantu’s team firmly in second place in District 32-4A, just two games behind the Lady Patriots.A big reason for Veterans’ on-court success? Senior guard Kassy Lopez, The Progress Times’ Big Six January Athlete of the Month.
Lopez has been great for the traditional district powerhouse, averaging 17 points per game. The guard has scored twenty or more points on multiple occasions. Just as recently as last Friday’s win over Valley View, Lopez scored 22 points.
“What can you say?” says Cantu of his top player. “Kassy has given us everything that she has [and] everything that we have asked. She has been the scorer that we need.”
Kassy’s path to having a great senior season didn’t start in November, the athlete has focused on basketball all year. Playing for the RGV Select club basketball team—consisting of some of the Valley’s elite players—Lopez spent her summer traveling to tournaments in places like Dallas and Frisco, developing her game in the areas of dribbling, agility, jump stops, floaters and jumpers. The work has paid off as Lopez has been given a green light by Cantu.
The road to the present actually started at Palmview High School for Kassy. Playing her freshmen year with the Lady Lobos, Kassy transferred to Veterans her sophomore year and immediately felt comfortable with her new head coach.
“As soon as I met [Coach Cantu] we automatically clicked,” Kassy says.
Cantu has especially helped his top scorer play both sides of the ball, developing her on the defensive side.
Also helping the senior is the team. Despite being the top scorer, Lopez does not beat opponents by herself. Having sidekicks like Briana Casas and Kaitlyn Garza has helped the Patriots.
“We’ve had a lot of success,” says Kassy, emphasizing the “we” part. “We just work hard as a team and have a lot of dedication and hard work in our practices.”
Being dedicated as a teammate is something Cantu appreciates, almost as much as Lopez’s scoring. The coach calls Kassy “a tremendous teammate” that cares deeply for fellow players.
All of that contributes to a successful player and a successful team.
A Look at The Progress Times’ Big Six January Athlete of the Month: Kassy Lopez
Full Name: Kassandra Lopez
School: Veterans Memorial
Jersey Number: 23
Points Per Game: 17.0 (52 three pointers)
Season High Scoring: 25 points, two different times (Brownsville Veterans Memorial, Nov. 29; Roma, Dec. 31)
School GPA: 3.7
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