GONZALES — There wasn’t much to celebrate in taking an 84-39 loss last Friday. The Gonzales Apaches started off slow and despite a few spurts of offense, were unable to catch up to the Cedar Creek Eagles in their non-district home game.
“I think tonight was a real eye opener for them,” Apaches head boys basketball coach A.J. Irwin said after the game. “It’s like we like to be the underdog, we like to start games down because then we get down 20 then we want to start battling. Whenever you do that against a team that’s got a 6-8 and a 6-6, you’re going to have a very hard time like tonight.”
Indeed, it was a hard time for the Apaches as Cedar Creek scored 10 straight before José Niño scored from an assist by Jaydyn Lookabill a little less than two minutes into the game. The Eagles would outscore Gonzales 22-7 in the first quarter, then increased their lead to 40-15 by the half.
The Eagles’ used their height advantage down low to get early points and for second and third-chance shots. Cedar Creek outrebounded Gonzales 49-39. Offensively, the Apaches shot 23.3 percent from the field, going 14 of 28 from two-point range and 0-for-12 from three.
“The analogy I used [last year] was relocating from sand to solid ground” Irwin said. “This year it’s building the foundation. Relocating is a lot easier than building, so these kids are having to build.”
“The importance of a system is that much greater because of our height disadvantage,” he added, “so the importance of their buy-in is that much greater.”
José Niño and William Knox led the team in scoring with 10 points each. Diego DeLeon added eight points, six rebounds, two steals and a block while Mason Richter had seven points and two rebounds. Contrell Smith had a team-leading five steals.
Overall, Irwin believes the 45-point loss will be a turning point for the Apaches. With district coming soon, Irwin is looking at his entire roster from junior varsity up to see who will step up and contribute and try to knock off one of the top teams in district.
For a team as small as Gonzales, Irwin believes it’s going to take a lot of effort to get to where they need to be.
“Our kids are just going to have to want it more than anybody they play,” Irwin explained, “they’re going to have to want it more than they’ve ever wanted it before. And the basketball side of it, that’s the easy part. You can teach them and they get it for the most part, they figure it out, but when a guy dunks on you, how you respond to that shows a lot about your character. I feel like tonight was the first time we actually got punched in our mouth so to speak, the first time we got dunked on, I guess.”
The Apaches host a tournament this week, with brackets not released before deadline.