While the Runnin’ Bobcats work without two starters in the early going, it doesn’t seem to have affected their play so far, as they’ve begun with a pair of wins. Coach Zeke Cuellar’s bunch took out Laredo schools Alexander and Nixon last week, handling the Bulldogs and then coming back from 19 down to beat the Mustangs in San Antonio.
With the football team still alive in the playoffs. Stevie Guerrero and Cord Arriola, key cogs in the machine, are not with the hoops group. This leaves Philip de la Rosa and Aaron Olvera as the main threats until the quartet can be united once again.
Cuellar said that his group has responded well in the absence of those starters, and the situation has given some new faces a chance to play.
“We have a number of kids up from freshman or JV that need time to learn the system and what it’s like at this level,” said Cuellar, whose bunch led big against Alexander before getting caught from behind in the late stages but hanging on to win. “Now is the time for them to learn some things, take advantage of the opportunity to play.”
Among those expected to contribute are posts Noel Espericueta and Gabe Rivas, both about 6-foot-4. The former won the game for EHS Saturday against Nixon with an offensive rebound and score at the buzzer.
“He is really active, always moving, he’s the kind of kid who will dive on the floor for the ball,” Cuellar said. “And Gabe, he will definitely have an impact this year.”
Other newcomers to the effort are Nick McAliff, Emilio Trejo, and Matthew Garza, who will seek minutes at the guard slots.
When football gets done, back will come Guerrero and Arriola, plus a trio of others. Returning to the program is Jonathan Gonzalez, a leaper with good hands who will probably see time at forward. Down the road, expect defensive football stars Teddy Lara and Sal Martinez to chip in.
“Those two kids will start on the JV for now, but they are experienced guys from the lower levels,” Cuellar noted. “They are both fast and can jump, good rebounders, but maybe their best attribute is defense. By the time district gets here, they might be up with us, when we press, it would be nice to put those kids in there to chase the ball.”
Cuellar missed the playoff game against Sharyland due to the SA trip, as he had to choose hoops over his role as a secondary coach for the footballers. He did manage to get a look at video of the crazy area win, though.
“We got back from San Antonio about 3:30 a.m., and one of the coaches had the DVD,” he reported. “So I ended staying up to watch it. What a great win, I am happy for those kids, the seniors are getting to enjoy their senior year. They’ll be back out here sooner or later, and we will get the team connected to one another. They know that it will take some time to do that.”
NOTES: Economedes started the year with a win against Palmview but then a loss to La Joya, 56-54. The Jags worked against Raymondville at home Tuesday and were to travel to St. Joe in Brownsville Friday. North, picked by many to contend for a playoff spot along with the other two city schools, is off to a 0-2 start.