MVP: AARON OLVERA (jr.) EHS
A bona fide star, he averaged 22 points per game this year, surpassing 20 points 22 times and going for over 30 on four occasions, including a season-best 36 against Calallen. Also contributed six rebounds and six assists per game, paced the team in steals, and converted over 80 three-pointers. A super fast guard with excellent ball skills and a crazy vertical leap, Olvera is poised to become the MVP of the Valley as a senior, if he doesn’t win that award this time.
STEVIE GUERRERO (jr.) EHS
Came on stronger with every week, often playing out of position down low, as opposed to the guard spot he occupied as a sophomore. Averaged 14 points per game and seven rebounds in district play and was among team leaders in steals. Guerrero was hot in the playoffs with 30 against San Benito in bi-district and 28 versus Laredo United in the regional quarterfinals. Definitely one of the best players in the Valley this season, put the ‘Cats over the top with his all-around excellence.
JOSH DIAZ (sr.) ECON
Proved that a player doesn’t have to score to be an effective leader. Diaz scored just 5.1 points per game this season but paced the playoff-bound Jags in assists and steals, and his steady floor game and propensity for the clutch play were key factors in the team’s resurgence. At his best late in the game, Diaz was a coach on the floor for Coach Lalo Rios as the only senior in the starting lineup, and could also hit the open look when the team needed it.
JUAN RAMIREZ (sr.) NORTH
For a Cougar team beset with injuries all year, “Juanito” was the dependable guiding light; after getting a late start after football season, he became a team leader with quick defense out front and a knack for making big three-pointers. Averaged eight points per game and four steals, knocking down six bombs against EHS late in the season, good for a season-high 20 points. One of the fastest pair of hands in the league, combing that with considerable lower-body strength.
JOHN BARRIENTOS (soph) ECON
Had a huge opening run in 2009-10, averaging 16 points and nine boards through non-district. Though his scoring production cooled somewhat, the 6-foot-2 post became an expert passer and led the team to the playoffs for the first time in six years by hustling for loose balls and finding ways to win. For the year, posted marks of 14 points and eight rebounds a night; hit for a career-high 29 points against Juarez-Lincoln. Look out below for this future star next year.
CORD ARRIOLA (jr.) EHS
Mr. Intangible, this junior provided excellent defense for the Bobcats and tossed in 10 ppg this season. Equally adept on the drive or spotting up for the open J, Arriola made 30 three-pointers this year and was particularly effective in the team’s third-round playoff game. An underrated and unsung member of the Runnin’ Cats, he did all the little things that helped the squad win 29 games. Slender, but tougher than he looks.
JESUS GONZALEZ (soph) ECON
Versatile young player who could get on a roll scoring-wise while sticking to the opposition’s leading pointmaker. A lefty with an elusive ability to score in traffic, he hit for nearly 10 ppg this season with a high of 18 against Harlingen. Threw in 22 three-pointers and visited the free-throw line regularly with an aggressive, crowd-pleasing style.
J.J. VELASQUEZ (soph) ECON
Another of the fine sophomores on the Jag roster, he was a solid outside-shooting threat who could muscle up on defense. Velasquez averaged 9.2 points per game and was among the team leaders in steals, also nailing nearly 30 threes. Had a season high of 19 points against Edcouch-Elsa and displayed a nice game all-around for the team.
MICHAEL LOPEZ (sr.) NORTH
A big man with some quick moves on the blocks, he was a steady performer for the Coogs, putting up 8.2 points and 7 rebounds a game. Particularly strong against Econ, with a pair of 16-point nights, Lopez showed impressive feet and positioning on the offensive glass, and could also net the mid-range jumper when given the shot.
MARQUIS HOLIDAY (jr.) EHS
Rangy post with huge upside, averaged 10 ppg and seven rebounds for the district champ ‘Cats, at times dominating with fast reflexes and relentless drive to the tin. Scored in double figures in six league games, including 22 and 19 points against P-SJ-A Memorial. Also strong in two big wins over Harlingen, with a total of 25 points and 15 rebounds.
COACH OF THE YEAR: LALO RIOS, ECON
Took a team that had finished 4-26 last season to the state playoffs and a winning mark in his fourth season at the helm. He was able to mold a young group of sophomores into a cohesive unit with his intense tutelage. In the preseason, the former EHS great felt that the Jags had an outside chance to make the grade in 2009-10, and they came through for him with an excellent performance leading to a bi-district appearance against Brownsville Hanna.