Much like a basketball being dribbled across the court, high school coaches experience many ups and downs. There are wins and losses. There are championships and there are disappointing seasons. There are hirings and there are firings. Over the years that Raquel Carmona has coached girls high school basketball she has experienced all of those and more.
With multiple district, bi-district, area and regional quarterfinal championships during her 25 years of coaching at schools like Edinburg High and Hidalgo, Carmona has experienced many highs. However, in her second year at Mission High School, Carmona and the Lady Eagles are still searching for the right formula that will allow them to minimize the lows and maximize the highs.
“Last year we had some players that didn’t come back,” explained Carmona. “We had four returning players with only two of those being starters.”
In their inaugural season under Carmona, the Lady Eagles won only one district game last year, while losing 15. Overall Mission finished with a 7-25 record in 2012-2013.
While Mission has already won more games than all of last year, Carmona knows that there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“We’re still struggling with playing the type of game I want us to play,” said Carmona. “However, I do feel that overall we’re coming together. The fact that we only have one senior on our roster means that the other girls will be coming back. It’s a good learning experience for them.”
With wins over Donna North (2), Edcouch Elsa (2) and PSJA Southwest and losses to Valley View (2), Roma (2), Veterans Memorial, Rio Grande City and Mercedes the Lady Eagles have compiled a 5-7 district record (12-14 overall) so far this season. While Carmona is not satisfied with those results, she knew going into the season that having such a young team would make turning things around in one year difficult.
“One of our top players is probably one of the most improved right now,” said Carmona. “That is #24 Daniela Perez who is a post player and a junior. Emberly Garza (sophomore), Amanda Garza (junior) and Samantha Cortez (senior) are our other top players.”
During a recent 32-41 loss to Rio Grande City, the Lady Rattlers outscored Mission 15-6 in the fourth quarter to earn the nine-point win. While the outcome was disappointing to the coach, the fact that her girls played hard from tip-off to the final buzzer gave her something positive to take from the game.
“That’s something that we’ve been working on,” explained Carmona. “I do feel like we’re getting better in certain situations, but we still can’t convert or score off of some of the situations…. I believe that is due to our youth and inexperience.
“Our team chemistry is good,” added Carmona. “We’re able to go with different combinations when our kids come off the bench, so we are getting there. It’s been a slow process, but we are getting there.”
With four games remaining on their district schedule, making the playoffs is still within the Lady Eagles’ reach. Carmona shared some of what she told her team in the locker room after the loss to the Lady Rattlers.
“On any given day anyone can beat anyone,” said Carmona. “I feel that if we just take one game at a time and stay focused on whomever our next opponent is, we’ll get there. That is what we’ll be trying to do.”
Tonight the Lady Eagles will be looking to avenge one of their first round losses when they travel cross-town to play the Veterans Memorial Lady Patriots. Tuesday they will be hosting the Rio Grande City Lady Rattlers. Both games are scheduled to tip-off at 6 p.m. and are the first games of a doubleheader with the Eagles boys who are scheduled to tip off their games at 7:30.