The Juarez-Lincoln Huskies basketball team is searching–searching for answers, searching for its identity and searching for its first district win. After their 51-41 home loss at the hands of the Mission Eagles Tuesday night, the search continues.
With Mission leading 14-13 at the end of the first period, 24-18 at halftime and 33-25 at the end of the third period, Juarez-Lincoln fought an uphill battle all night despite having the home crowd on their side. Having fallen behind by 16 points with three minutes left in the game, the fact that Coach Eric Montalvo’s Huskies were able to cut the final deficit to 10 was somewhat of a moral victory for Juarez-Lincoln. However, moral victories are not what Montalvo is seeking.
“We made a couple of shots and had a couple of steals towards the end so that helped us to cut into their lead,” explained Montalvo. “We just couldn’t put the ball into the basket at times and that hurt us. You have to give credit to Mission though. They got after it defensively, which got us away from what we were trying to do. So, all the credit goes to them.”
Just five games into their District 30-6A schedule, the Huskies still have time to turn things around. But Montalvo knows that doing so will not come easy.
“It’s going to take hard work and persistence for us to turn this season around. It’s a long season so we’ve just got to keep grinding,” the seven-year head coach said.
”With only three seniors on the team, we are young, but like I’ve told the kids that is not an excuse for our not being able to put a complete game together. That’s what we need to do if we are going to chalk up a win,” added Montalvo.
As one of the three seniors on the team, forward Yariel Matute is well aware that this is his final chance to be part of the first Huskies boys basketball team to qualify for the playoffs. Despite their 0-5 start, Matute has not given up on attaining that goal.
“I’m still thinking playoffs,” said Matute. “I believe in our team. I think that we can beat anybody. We’ve given a lot of teams good games, but we have to fix ourselves first before we can beat anybody else. We’ve been beating ourselves.”
As one of the team captains Matute takes his role of team leader seriously.
“I try to get after the younger players,” said Matute. “I remind them…that we have three seniors on the team and that this is our last chance to make the playoffs. I also remind them that in a couple of years it will be their last year too. I get after them for mistakes they make on the court and I hope that they get after me too if and when I make mistakes.”
In his second year on the Juarez-Lincoln varsity squad, junior guard Javier Arechiga, like Matute, is not yet ready to give up on the possibility of turning the season around.
“I believe that this team can win,” expressed Arechiga. “Our coach believes in us too. We have to reward him for that belief in us because he does everything for us.”
Arechiga is motivated to do whatever it takes to put the winless streak behind them.
“It builds a fire inside of me that makes me want to win even more,” shared Arechiga. “I see every game as being winnable and every team as being beatable. There is no team that’s going to go undefeated, so we can win but we have to keep fighting.”
Tonight the Huskies will be traveling to La Joya High to play the Coyotes in their final opportunity to win a first-round game. They will then host the Nikki Rowe Warriors Tuesday as the second round of district play begins. Both games are scheduled to tip off at 7:30.