GONZALES — The scoreboard did not do justice to how close this District 30-4A game was between Gonzales and Navarro last Friday, Dec. 21. The conversation changes with a few made layups here and there for the Apaches. Nonetheless, Gonzales dropped to 1-1 in district after losing to the Panthers at home 61-43 before heading to the holiday break.
“It was an 18-point loss, it just happened to be 18 because at the end they hit a couple of shots — it got away from us in the last minute,” Gonzales Head Coach AJ Irwin said. “But it was a much closer game than that, anybody in the gym would have known that tonight. We missed a lot of layups, we missed free throws. We got to the rim, I don’t know, 12-15 missed layups.”
The Apaches combined to go 7-of-22 from the paint.
“I’m not disappointed with the loss, I’m not disappointed with their effort,” Irwin added. “They just got to make layups. If they make layups, the conversation we’re having right now is different.”
Even with the missed layups, Gonzales showed promise in the loss, specifically on how they attacked the rim and how they played defense.
“We had no problem breaking their press,” Irwin highlighted, “we had no problem getting to the rack. We’d get there, and just not make the layup. We were able to switch defenses on the fly, like I like to do. That’s part of what I believe works in basketball.”
One of the players who stuck out was Justyn Ybarbo who had seven points, five rebounds and two steals.
“I’m big on the intangibles and Justyn hustled like he never hustled before tonight,” Irwin said. “We need him to do that every night.”
Despite fouling out in the third quarter, Irwin believed Diego De Leon played well.
William Knox led the team in scoring with 15 points. He also had six rebounds, one assist and a team-leading three steals.
This holiday break, the Apaches are headed to the Goliad tournament before hosting Bay City on Wednesday, Jan. 2. The team will use the time to not only sharpen their tools, so to speak, but also give some playing time to the younger athletes in need of more reps. Rather than focus on his top seven or eight players who normally get playing time, Irwin has a group of freshmen and sophomore including Jaydyn Lookabill
“Lookabill has been playing down, I’m wanting him to get minutes and he’s playing a lot in the junior varsity level,” Irwin explained. “The way that my system is set up, I believe that you need to play as much as you can play and if I got you on the varsity bench playing four or five minutes, you’re not really producing, that’s not going to benefit you. Rather than ‘hey I’m going to have to move you down,’ no, his name is still on the board, he’s still a varsity player, but I need him to get minutes. He’s sat on the bench with us this game. When we go to this tournament, he’ll come with us and then there’s a few other freshmen that will be coming with us as well because they need to see what it’s like at the varsity level for a varsity tournament. I’m pretty excited about that.”
Gonzales’ next district game is Jan. 4 on the road against Poteet.