Thursday, March 21, 2019
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STBig7The end of district play is a week away and Big 7 Boys Basketball teams are making their final push towards the playoffs.

While only one Big 7 team managed to qualify for the playoffs a season ago, there are multiple teams looking to extend their year on the hardwood.

Here’s a quick look at how the Big 7 Boys Basketball Teams have fared in 2018-2019.

District 31-5A

Pioneer Diamondbacks
Pioneer has put together its best team in program history as they’ve roared out to a 23-8 record overall and 11-1 in district play, good enough for first place in the 31-5A.

Of their 11 district wins, nine of them have been by double digits as Pioneer’s size, athleticism, and intensity on the court causes problems all challengers.
The Diamondbacks roster has six players at least 6-foot tall or more, making them one of the biggest in the Valley.

The combination of juniors Lavar Lindo and Luke Padilla has emerged as one of the most dangerous duos in the Valley with the ability to go inside-out. Head Coach Rene Gonzalez knows this team has all the potential in the world, but at the end of the day, it’s up to them how far they can take it.

After a one-year playoff absence, the Diamondbacks have turned into one of the Valley’s best teams and can claim their first ever district title with a strong finish to the regular season.

Mission Veterans Patriots
After an offseason of adversity, first year Head Coach Jose Ramos and the Mission Veterans Memorial Patriots are on the verge of qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

Senior Noe Cantu has been a walking bucket as the guard has the potential to drop 30 on opponents any given night. Cantu led the Patriots with 37 points in a win over Sharyland on Jan. 29 to eliminate the Rattlers from playoff contention and keep Mission Veterans on their path to the postseason.

Sophomore post AJ Gonzaque made the transition from football to basketball and as the year has gone by, his minutes have increased, going from a small role on the bench to a full-time starter. His size and athleticism are key to the Patriots’ recent success as his defense and rebounding ability give the team an added edge.

The Patriots are close to a lock for a playoff spot, and once they get there, can beat anybody across from them if Cantu can get hot.

Palmview Lobos
The Palmview Lobos find themselves right in the middle of the District 31-5A standings as former Juarez-Lincoln Head Coach Albert Carrillo has now taken over the program.

It’s been an up and down year for the Lobos in district, who are currently on the outside looking in and desperately in need of victories to close the regular season to move into playoff positioning.

Irving Gamez and Carlos Montelongo are both averaging over 10 points per game, while Sigifredo Flores and Gabe Garza have stepped into key roles for the Lobos.

Palmview closes out the year with a game against the Sharyland Rattlers before their season finale when they take on the first place Pioneer Diamondbacks.

Sharyland Rattlers
Sharyland’s district record may not be impressive, but if you see the Rattlers on the court, they play with intensity from the jump ball to the final buzzer.

Guards Nazier Moore and Mauro Fernandez have combined to give the Rattlers one of the best backcourts in 31-5A, with senior Andres Abrego adding size, length and tremendous scoring ability around the rim.

Although eliminated from playoff contention, the Rattlers end district play with two winnable games against Palmview and Roma, which would point Sharyland in the right direction heading into next season with Moore returning for his senior year.

District 30-6A

Mission Eagles
Last season, the Eagles and first year Head Coach Rico Martinez finished at the bottom of District 30-6A.

In 2018-2019, however, Mission and Martinez have completely turned things around and made the Eagles a force to be reckoned with in Valley basketball.

The Eagles are currently 7-5 in district play and in position to claim on of 30-6A’s four playoff spots up for grabs.

The biggest key to Mission’s 180 has been their athleticism and cohesiveness on the court. Jahel Salinas and Louie Garcia can get it done on the offensive end, while Rey Garcia, Tito Moronta and Andrew Maldonado give the team an edge when it comes to grit.

If the Eagles can manage to win one more game over PSJA North or La Joya to close district play, Mission High hoops will be back in the playoffs for the first time in years.

La Joya Coyotes
La Joya is about to miss the playoffs for the second season in a row, but there’s a reason to be hopeful for Coyote faithful.

The Coyotes have one of the youngest teams in 30-6A, and while its shown as they’ve struggled at times, La Joya has also managed to show flashes of potential.

La Joya avenged their early loss to Juarez-Lincoln with a 71-44 beatdown that saw Santiago Rodriguez and Juan Trujillo erupt for 21 and 20 points, respectively. The win was La Joya’s third in district play as the Coyotes improved to 3-9 in 30-6A action.

With a young core of Rodriguez, Trujillo and JC Barrientos, along with a number of others returning next year, look for Head Coach Eric Montalvo to have the Coyotes back on the right track in no time.

The Coyotes close the season with matchups against playoff teams in Rowe and Mission, so if La Joya can play spoiler and come away with one win, that’ll be a victory this year’s squad can be proud of.

Juarez-Lincoln Huskies
After making the playoffs for the first time in program history in 2017-2018, the Huskies have fallen back down to earth.

Juarez-Lincoln lost a load of talent from their first ever playoff team and were under new direction this season, leading to plenty of rough patches and a 1-11 district record.

The Huskies biggest victory of the year happened on the road as Juarez-Lincoln found a way to knock off La Joya 64-62 on Jan. 8. Alan Hernandez went off with 20 points to give the Huskies their lone win in District 30-6A play, while Kenneth Gonzalez and Robert Villasana have been bright spots for Juarez-Lincoln on the court all year.

Head Coach Adrian Trevino knows it’ll be a process building Juarez-Lincoln back up, but it’s a challenge he and the Huskies will be determined to overcome.