Monday, December 18, 2017
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Diamondbacks experiencing growing pains

20171212 Basketball LNHS vs SPHS Boys LG-24The Pioneer Diamondbacks boys’ basketball team’s youth and inexperience was on display Tuesday evening when they fell by a score of 47-68 to the Laredo Nixon Mustangs in their District 31-5A opener.

Coming off a 2016-2017 season in which they lost nine players to graduation, Diamondbacks’ head coach Rene Gonzalez has two freshmen, two sophomores and one senior as his starting five. That youth and inexperience is something that the Mustangs exploited Tuesday as they jumped out to an early lead and never looked back en-route to their 21-point victory.

While the Diamondbacks hung close to the Mustangs through the first half, they never actually led in the game. The Mustangs jumped out to a 6-0 lead shortly after the tip-off and extended that lead to nine points at the end of the first quarter when they led by the score of 19-10. With 4:35 remaining in the first half, the Diamondbacks pulled to within three points of the Mustangs, 17-20, but the Mustangs bounced back to extend their lead to 11 at the half when they led by the score of 33-22.

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Home-grown professional soccer player returns to valley

20171215 soccer-playerA homegrown professional soccer player returns to the area next week for two days of soccer clinics.

Mikey Lopez remembers growing up in Alton. As a young boy, playing soccer on any type of field – from blacktop, to rock and dirt to wonderfully laid down soft grass – he always kept a dream alive to play professional soccer.

In 2013, that dream became a reality as Lopez was drafted in the first round – the 14th pick overall – by Kansas City in the Major League Soccer (MLS) Super Draft. Since then he has played for Orlando City, Oklahoma City and most recently with New York City FC.

Read more: Home-grown professional soccer player returns to valley

District 31-5A basketball Lady Patriots, Rattlers and Diamondbacks looking to bounce back

20171208 Shary girls basketballAs the Mission Veterans Lady Patriots, the Sharyland Lady Rattlers and the Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks basketball teams open district play this week, the fact that they were all left on the outside-looking-in during last season’s playoffs is still fresh on their minds. While the Lady Diamondbacks have yet to make the playoffs during their first three years of existence, the Lady Patriots and the Lady Rattlers have both been perennial playoff qualifiers for pretty much as long as most of the players on their rosters have been in existence.


Whether or not the Lady Patriots and the Lady Rattlers have ever both missed out on the playoffs in the same season is not clear, but it certainly hasn’t happened since they became District 31-5A rivals in 2014. So what went wrong last season? One look at the 2016-2017 district standings pretty much answers that question. The three Laredo teams, Cigarroa, Martin and Nixon, that were moved into 31-5A last season occupied the top three spots in the standings leaving only one playoff spot available for the remaining six teams in the district.


Will history repeat itself this season? Not if the Lady Patriots, the Lady Rattlers and the Lady Diamondbacks have anything to say about it. With that in mind, let’s look at these three Big 7 teams from each of their coach’s perspective.

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District 31-5A boys’ basketball back to ballin’

Pioneer-boys-basketball-2017-18Teams around the Valley are back to balling and hitting the hardwood with tournaments and non-district action, gearing up for the start of district play in less than two weeks. Here’s a look at the Big 7 Teams on the boys’ side of 31-5A.


Pioneer Diamondbacks
Pioneer was the only Big 7 team in 31-5A to qualify for the postseason a year ago. That Diamondback team was led by nine seniors who are now gone, and with only two returning lettermen, Head Coach Rene Gonzalez is hopeful his youthful group can come together to put Pioneer in the playoff picture once again.


“We’re taking a little different approach because we don’t have too much experience,” Gonzalez said. “They’ve responded really well in practice. They listen, they pay attention, they’re always asking questions and they’re eager to learn, and that’s one thing that’s good about this team this year. They know what they want to do this year.”

Read more: District 31-5A boys’ basketball back to ballin’

Analysis: Big 7 football – a season to remember

20171124 SHSVALICEThe 2017 high school football season marks only the second time in the past six years that a Big 7 team has not advanced into the third round of the University Interscholastic League’s (UIL’s) state playoffs. Does that mean that when it comes to the seven teams from the Mission, Sharyland and La Joya school districts, the 2017 season was a failure? Not at all. There were many positives that occurred during the recently completed season that the majority of the seven teams can look back at with pride even if most of them did not occur during postseason play.


The positives actually began during non-district play when this year’s Big 7 teams combined for identical 5-2 Week 1 and Week 2 records compared to a 1-6 Week 1 and a 3-4 Week 2 record last season. Considering the fact that these games were played against the same opponents both years, such a dramatic improvement served as a pretty good indicator of the fact that the Big 7 as a whole was about to have a pretty good year.


While an improved non-district record does not in-and-of-itself make for a successful season, an improved district record does. So let’s take a look at the four Big 7 teams that did improve over last year’s results in regards to their district records.

Read more: Analysis: Big 7 football – a season to remember

Sharyland's season ends in triple-overtime playoff thriller

20171124 SHSVALICE48 minutes wasn’t enough to decide a winner; neither was a first or second overtime.


The Sharyland Rattlers fought until the final whistle of the third overtime, but ultimately fell short, bringing their season to an end with a 42-39 loss to the Alice Coyotes in the area round of the playoffs at Memorial Stadium in Alice.


“We came out on the short end there on the scoreboard but we’re proud of our boys,” Ron Adame said. “They gave us everything they had today and we talked all week about playing four quarters and if it took overtime, to be ready for that mentally, physically I know they were. I think you had two great teams that were evenly matched today and Alice just found a way to get it done in overtime.”

Read more: Sharyland's season ends in triple-overtime playoff thriller