The Palmview Lobos boys basketball team is coming off a historic season. Their 64-58 bi-district round victory over Laredo United South, the 23rd ranked team in the state, last year was the first-ever playoff win in school history. With it being an all-senior starting five that rewrote the record books at Palmview High School however, the 2015/2016 season is shaping up to be a rebuilding year for the Lobos.
In his sixth year as the Palmview head boys basketball coach, Andy Saenz has never been one to shy away from a challenge. And a challenge is exactly what he is facing this year as he looks to lead an experience-challenged Lobos’ team to what could be their fourth playoff appearance in the past five years.
“In our area round playoff game against Harlingen South last year our best player, Orlando Munoz, tore his ACL in the first quarter,” Saenz said. “We were ahead at that point in the game but we ended up losing by three points.”
“Fortunately our mostly-senior roster came through for us and kept the game close,” added Saenz. “However now we’ve graduated everybody except for two non-starters that have returned this year. The rest of the kids are from the JV team but they’ve been working hard and trying to get acclimated to competition at the varsity level.”
Saenz believes that had it not been for Munoz’s untimely injury and the season-ending broken leg another starter, Anthony Magallon, suffered earlier in the year, last year’s Lobos could’ve advanced to the regional tournament. With that group of starters gone, Saenz will be counting on two of last year’s back-ups to lead the way this year.
“It was a senior ball club last year but Armando Alaniz and Jacob Salinas were coming off the bench for us so they did play some minutes,” explained Saenz. “As my two returners, they are leaders on the team this year. Ever since the end of last year they both stepped into their roles as leaders. They’ve taken their position by the horns and they’ve gone with it, no questions asked.”
Saenz knows that if his new group of starters is going to have any chance of makng it four playoff appearances over the past five years, they are going to have their work cut out for them.
“I’ll say this about our district; you’ll have to bring your A-game every night,” shared Saenz. “Obviously we’ve gone out scouting and Mission defeated McAllen High soundly by about 20 points, Nikki Rowe only beat Juarez-Lincoln by six or seven points and La Joya stayed right with Memorial. That says a lot about our district. From top to bottom, there aren’t going to be any easy games.”
The Lobos opened their District 30-6A schedule Tuesday evening with a 54-52 overtime victory over the Mission Eagles. Despite the win, Saenz expressed extreme disappointment over the play of his team.
“First of all I want to apologize for our play,” Saenz said immediately after the game. “We played terribly. This is one of the most terrible games we’ve played all season long. We try to prepare them as best we can and it’s my fault that we made as many mistakes as we did. There were a lot of mental lapses and they came from players that have the experience.”
“But I hope that this is a wake-up call for our team,” added Saenz. “However a win is a win and I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day.”