CORPUS CHRISTI — The Gonzales Apaches found themselves in a familiar position down three with 18 seconds left in regulation. On Tuesday, the Apaches were also down three, forcing overtime with a Diego Diaz de Leon made triple with 16 seconds left to go. But in Friday’s game against Hidalgo, the Apaches were unable to force another overtime, ultimately losing 50-47 to the Pirates to end their season in the area round of playoffs.
“Our kids played their hearts out,” Gonzales head coach Alec Paramski said after the game. “They knocked down some big shots, we started to make a run to come back again. But the biggest factor was our free throws. We had to make our free throws and we fell short tonight.”
After going 2-of-2 in the first half from the free-throw line, the Apaches went 8-of-14 in the second half of the team’s three-point loss.
Despite their struggles from the free-throw line, the Apaches’ defense allowed just six points in the third quarter to come within four. Midway in the fourth quarter, down seven with 4:17 left, the Apaches again flexed their defensive muscle, not allowing a Hidalgo basket for the next three minutes of game clock. The team came within two before Hidalgo called a timeout.
“It says a lot, it shows how much heart they had,” Paramski said of the team’s comeback. “They just keep playing no matter what. At times they may get a little frustrated, but basketball is an emotional rollercoaster, there’s always ups and downs and these past two games proved it. There’s always a chance of coming back and they believed that they will always have a chance. Tonight, we just fell short.”
Down three with 18 seconds, the Apaches ran a play to get Diaz de Leon a chance at forcing overtime for the second game in a row. But after two attempts at the basket, the team was unable to convert, losing 50-47.
Will Knox ended the night the Apaches’ leading scorer with 14 points. Jaydyn Lookabill had 13 points, Diaz de Leon had 10 points, Xavier Aguayo added six, Brady Barfield had three and Arbreyon Dora had one point.
Gonzales finishes the 2019-20 season as bi-district champions, area finalists and third in District 30-4A after beating Navarro in a tiebreaker on Feb. 21. The Apaches broke a nearly decade-long playoff drought, making it to the bi-district for the first time since 2011. Their postseason win on Tuesday was their first since 2008.
“I told them last year, even when I was an assistant, ‘if y’all want to change Gonzales basketball, y’all need to play all year round whether it’s playing at the park, playing in a select league, y’all have to change it yourself,’” Paramski recalled. “‘I can only help you for a certain season and then after that you have to keep playing.’ And I feel like the kids that I have, they play basketball all the time. There is still work to be done. I feel like we had a successful season this year but our ultimate goal is to get to state."