GONZALES — A frustrating up-and-down district season for the Gonzales Apaches will end without a playoff berth as the Apaches, down 60-39 with 1:47 left in the game went on a 15-0 run but ran out of time, losing to the visiting San Antonio Brooks Academy Bengals 60-54 to drop to 3-8 in District 30-4A and officially out of playoff contention. The Cuero Gobblers (5-5) won their game against Poteet (2-9), clinching a top-four finish in the district.
The Apaches’ game plan going in was to slow the game down and limit possessions, especially since their press hasn’t worked as of late. But being down 25 in the fourth quarter forced a change in strategy.
“I was like, ‘guys, we’re down 20, we have to press,’” head coach A.J. Irwin recalled telling the team during a timeout. “So we’re pressing and they just wanted it, last two and a half minutes, they just wanted it, you know. That’s what you witnessed, the last two, two and a half minutes, the guys on the floor really wanted it. I think that’s what made a difference at the end.”
The Apaches outscored SA Brooks Academy 30-20 after scoring just 24 points in the first three quarters.
“The most frustrating thing about this is, the same thing I’ve been saying since I got here is the same thing I’ve been saying now and it’s the same thing that I’ll always say and that’s it doesn’t matter what we draw up, it doesn’t matter what practice plan we have in place, it doesn’t matter what scheme we run, it doesn’t matter what offense we’re running, what inbounds we’re running, if we practice Saturday morning, it doesn’t matter if we practice every day of the week, it doesn’t matter if I open the gym, none of that matters if they don’t want it,” Irwin said. “They have to want it. And that last two and a half minutes they wanted it. And I asked them, ‘guys, why? Why do we have to be down 25 points before you start playing? Why is it important then?’ And one of the seniors says, ‘I guess it’s what we’re used to.’ It’s like they have habitually been down in so many games for four years that it’s a naturally thing that ‘oh, now we have to play,’ as oppose to starting as if we’re down 20.”
Too many times the Apaches have played from behind, trying to find a way to dig themselves out of the hole. Unfortunately for Irwin and his squad, the hole was just too deep. A 15-0 run in less than two minutes is impressive. Earlier in the game, the Bengals went on a 15-0 run themselves, but that was a span of eight minutes of game clock. But for Irwin, the Apaches shouldn’t have to put themselves in that position.
The “want to,” Irwin referred to earlier needs to start at tipoff, not late in the fourth.
Leading scoring for the Apaches was senior Contrell Smith who shot 8-for-13, scoring 17 points. Brady Barfield added 11 points while Diego Diaz DeLeon and William Knox each had eight, Abreyoin Dora had four and José Niño and Jaydyn Lookabill each had three points.
The team has one game left as Friday’s non-district bout against Waelder was canceled. Irwin and the Apaches will use the game to further the team’s progression. Despite the disappointment, the team has shown improvement.
“From where we were this year versus last year, the growth has been great,” Irwin said. “Now the last time that a team won more than two district games was in 2010-11 when they went to the playoffs. Last year we didn’t win any, this year we’re at three, and we just want to keep improving.”
Gonzales hosts La Vernia for their season finale. Tipoff is scheduled at 7:45 p.m.
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