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For most teams, inexperience could well spell disaster. For La Joya Girls Basketball, experienced they are not. However, the Lady Coyotes have an antidote for possible disaster: team unity.
The saying goes, “Together everyone achieves more,” and that is exactly how Dan Morales' squad has gone about their business the past month. At 12-9, La Joya has performed well at their tournaments and were able to start the year off right by beating Veterans Memorial.
“The girls have worked really hard and we have improved every game,” says Morales, who is now in his third year at the helm.
Though inexperienced overall, this year’s squad is fortunate to have a three-year starter in point guard Elva Hinojosa. Starting since she was a freshman, the junior provides the team leadership the young Lady Coyotes need to find success.
“[Elva] is our floor leader,” says Morales. “She is the extension of me on the floor. She gets everyone going. As she goes, we go.”
Says the vocal team leader, “I try to keep the team together. We are a family and are really close to each other.”
Hinojosa doesn't just provide team leadership solely through being vocal and relaying the plays to the team. She is also very athletic, possessing a keen ability to splice and dice her way through traffic as she constantly drives on opponents, often finding miraculous ways to put the ball in the hoop. Adding to the danger, is the fact the floor leader often gets fouled when she goes inside.
Hinojosa isn't alone however. Joining her in the back court is freshman Karla Trevino. Though in her first year in high school and on the varsity squad, Trevino shows great poise, makes smart passes and has a strong dribble that doesn't get knocked out of rhythm even in the presence of pressure. In Morales' up-tempo offense, Trevino often brings the ball up just as much as Hinojosa. The freshman can hit shots from about anywhere on the court, but she also knows when to give up the ball to the open player.
One of the players who finds herself on the right end of the smart passes is senior post Ali Navarro. Providing a strong inside experience, Navarro pulls down the rebounds, using her pure athletic ability and keen sense to find the ball on the misses.
“[Ali] is very athletic,” beams her coach. “She controls the paint.”
Accompanying these three in playing time are Divenhi Jacobo, Leyla Platas and Natalie de los Santos. Together with Hinojosa, Navarro and Trevino, the squad has their eyes set on a playoff spot when February comes around.
The road won't be easy, as the girls found out Tuesday when they fell to Sharyland 55-38. Despite the loss to one of the district favorites, the girls had a lot of positives that showed their true potential.
For one, the team has a quick defense. Through the first half, the Rattlers were constantly turning the ball over, intimidated by the 1-3-1 pressure of the Lady Coyotes. La Joya certainly took advantage of the mistakes, immediately making Shary pay for their turnovers by transitioning the mistakes into fast-break points.
In the end, La Joya couldn't keep up with the depth of the Rattlers. However, when the lead started to get farther and farther between, the girls continued to play hard and work together. No backbiting, no complaining ever occurred when the team fell behind. They continued to play together.
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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.