The basketball season has well been underway for Gonzales County, but now it’s about the time where things start to get real.
District season is upon us, and any preseason or non-district wins or losses are forgotten about, as only district wins and losses count toward playoff contention. But what does count are the ways the Gonzales Apaches have morphed into an attacking team, rather than settling for jump shots. Head Coach A.J. Irwin believes that would be the way to go in order to get the Apaches competitive.
“We started out shooting the ball, but we just haven’t shot it well, so [instead] we started attacking the basket,” he explained. “In attacking the basket we have been able to create games where it could go either way based on layups and free throws. None of the games that have been close have we’ve been shooting the ball, we’ve been attacking the basket, we’ve been driving the ball to the hole, we’ve been forcing teams into foul trouble and that’s how we’ve been able to be successful. So we have grown exponentially in the areas of organization, basketball IQ and team discipline.”
“The little things,” as the first-year head coach describes, is something that will always be important for the Apaches. The team has been more patient with the ball, creating chances at scoring instead of turnovers through impatience.
“We’re actually playing decent basketball,” Irwin said of the progress. “We still have minor slips because of our basketball IQ. That’s been a challenge. We’ve played 6A schools and 5A schools that have multiple guys on their starting roster that play AAU every weekend that they go play all the time. There’s no excuse for these guys, that’s all they have, that’s all they do. We’re playing against those types of teams.”
But once the Apaches hit district play, Irwin hopes his team will be battle-tested, after taking on the their tough non-district schedule.
Wimberley returns as the District 27-4A champ, with Navarro taking second, La Vernia third Eastside Memorial fourth, and the Apaches taking fifth while the district adds San Antonio Veterans this season.
“They’re going to be long, they’re going to be big,” Irwin scouted, “they are going to be athletic and they are going to be strong. We just have to do the little things right, every time.”
As for La Vernia, the Bears “sit in a 2-3 zone and try to trap out of it in the corners and they are also going to look to push the ball down the floor, China Hills type,” Irwin noted.
If the Apaches can play solid man defense, box out, give them one attempt when they shoot, communicate and run their zone offense, Irwin believes his squad will be just fine.
Navarro is going to sit in a 2-3 zone as well, they’ll go a little bit of man, the head coach noted. Again, patience is important since the Panthers have some length on their team.
The ever-athletic Austin Eastside team aren’t nearly as disciplined as the others in the district, but their athleticism isn’t something to overlook. Irwin again talked about patience as well as staying discipline, “doing the little things right,” in order to be successful against that team.
The new team added to district, SA Veterans Memorial, have three solid basketball players that look like they play all the time. When scouting, Irwin noticed how well their top athletes play, citing their athleticism as well as their basketball IQ.
“With those guys, if we just limit their shots and take advantage of our opportunities, we’ll do well,” he said.
The district season starts Jan. 12 for the Gonzales Apaches as they have a few more tune-up games to go. As Irwin and his version of the Runnin’ Apaches morph into something more of an “Attackin’ Apaches,” the team looks to be competitive in district and, hopefully, win enough games to make it to the playoffs for the first time in many years.