FLORESVILLE — Down 14 points at one point, the Gonzales Apaches mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter, outscoring Hondo 18-8 to force overtime and then 9-4 in overtime to advance to the area round for the first time since the 2007-08 season. The Apaches used their overall team defense and a game-tying three by Diego Diaz de Leon to win 68-63 on Tuesday.
“We’re just a fighting team,” Gonzales head coach Alec Paramski said. “We find ways to win. We keep fighting, doesn't matter if we’re down, or even if we’re up. We keep fighting and fighting, do whatever it takes. That’s what I love about these kids. They may get down on each other once in awhile, but they find it within them, they find ways to make plays, people step up.”
“This is one of the most exciting games I’ve been a part of,” Paramski added. “It was absolutely nuts.”
Down 28-14 early in the second quarter, the Apaches showed signs of a comeback, ending the half on a 12-5 run. During the run, Jaydyn Lookabill scored eight of the team’s 12 points. Lookabill would end the game with 17 points. But Hondo would stretch out their lead to 51-41 to start the fourth quarter. Then the shots started to convert for the Apaches.
The second comeback run for the Apaches which forced overtime was made possible due to the baskets made by Lookabill, Xavier Aguayo, Brady Barfield and Diego Diaz de Leon.
Down 59-56 with less than 30 seconds to go, the Apaches ran a play that allowed senior Abreyon Dora to drive to the basket, then kick out to Diaz de Leon who then drilled a three to force a time with 16.1 seconds left on the clock.
“The kids I had in there were a little bit smaller,” Paramski explained. “I had my smaller lineup in, so I figured I’d attack and kick. We worked that in practice when we drive, find the opening and Dora made a great pass to Diego and Diego knocked down the shot, I mean, it was just great.”
Diaz de Leon was held to just two points in the first quarter before exploding for eight in the fourth, including that game-tying three. He ended the night with 13 points.
In overtime, up 65-63, Diaz de Leon also took a charge with 34.9 seconds left on a Hondo basket that would have tied the game.
“Diego, he stepped up,” Paramski said. “I kept trying to tell him, every time they drive, somebody’s got to step up and take that charge and that’s what Diego’s been doing all year, doing the dirty work, boxing out, taking charges, getting steals, getting on the floor and it showed right there, when the game mattered, he was my senior that was able to step up and get that done for me.”
The Apaches took advantage of the extra possession, with Lookabill finding Will Knox for an open look. Knox made the shot to give the Apaches the 67-63 lead. After another failed offensive possession for Hondo, Lookabill was fouled intentionally, making one of his two free throws to give the Apaches the 68-63, the would-be final score.
Paramski noted that the win was a total team effort, with four players coming away with double-digit scoring, including Aguayo with 18 points, Lookabill with 17, Diaz de Leon with 13 and Knox with 12. Brady Barfield added six points and Dora, who Paramski said had an outstanding night on defense, had two points.
“I’m so proud of these kids,” the first-year head coach said. “They haven’t really won in Gonzales for basketball. We’re making history as a program and these kids amaze me every day with what they can accomplish. We just want to keep striving for greatness every single day. All the hard work, the long weekends finally paid off. The kids were ecstatic, I was ecstatic. Just a great overall team win, great for our program, great for our school, we’re just all really excited.”
Gonzales now takes on Hidalgo, who escaped with a 59-58 overtime win on Tuesday. Both teams will play this Friday at King High School in Corpus Christi. Tipoff is scheduled at 7 p.m.