How time flies. It seems like we were beginning the year with football, and now we just ended the basketball, soccer, and wrestling seasons. Many winter sports teams are starting to have their banquets and give recognition to their athletes for a successful season. In the upcoming week, the Daily Miner will honor some of the players with an All-Miner selection in basketball.
As we look back I would like to honor some of the athletes with the impressions they made on me as a journalist and fan’s point of view. I salute all the athletes, because without you, I would not have anything to write about.
To the coaches, thank you for the generosity of your time. For allowing me to watch practices and for sending me text’s, updates and quotes after your games, win or lose.
Lee Williams girls’ basketball coach Jerry Arave, thank you for always sending me your statistics and recapping the game for me. I look forward to watching your girls become this year’s class of the 4A Grand Canyon Region. In other words, the team to beat. There is a lot to build upon with Sadie Snay, Chania Scott, Madison Arave, and the rest of the crew coming back to dominate.
In my opinion, the Lee Williams boys had the best life experience of any team in the region. They began the season winning their first five games and then lost five out of six games to go under .500. They rallied and won four out of their last five games, making it to the championship game in the 4A Grand Canyon Region before losing to Flagstaff.
Talk about loaded, they should be the favorite to win their region next season. This team continued to fight and get better and play hard even when the results weren’t there on a nightly basis. Coach Cain Atkinson continued to preach mental toughness and defense as the process his team would need to win. It worked, they ended the season .500.
Nic Verville, it was my honor to watch you with excitement and anticipation as you concluded your mission of winning the 132-pound wresting championship at state. I have never met a high school athlete so driven and determined to win.
Verville, you didn’t just talk about it. You were about it, and that is refreshing to see in high school sports. The nice part of watching this from afar is you gave everything you had in accomplishing your goals.
The Lee Williams boys’ soccer team: Hold your head up. Coach Gabe Otero has a history of building winners after rough beginnings. With an influx of talent and another summer of playing club ball together, there is a chance this team will be in the thick of things next year, and if the ball bounces right, fighting for a region playoff berth.
One of the most touching tributes I have witnessed this season at a sporting event was the passing of the No. 9 jersey from Carlos Castaneda to his brother, Jose.
For the Lady Vols soccer team, I salute you for having the fortitude to play hard through adversity. It was not lost on your fans or school. The best impression you ladies made was playing hard and having fun. Fun through the tears of saying goodbye to coach (Jessica Brinkerhoff) and welcoming Lindsey Serrano.
With the shot making ability from players like Sienna Cobanovich and Mercedes Serrano, who scored three goals against an opponent and was looking for more, will have a great season next year for the coach lucky enough to coach this group. Well done, ladies.
The Kingman Academy girls: nice run and nice comeback. If it had not been for a paperwork snafu, you would have made the tournament. Coach Garth Steed should be looking at a 2A West
Coach of the Year award. The job that you accomplished this season with basically the same girls who won only one game the year before to win six games and finish 6-4 in the region. The concept of a team was never more evident in the way your team continued to play and get better as the season went on.
There is a lot to build on for next year, as with the farming, your coaching methods prove it just takes time for a crop to come up.
This was one of the best stories of the winter. Head coach Brian Devincenzi’s team was left for dead with a 3-6 start. Devincenzi believed that when his point guard, David Larrabee returned, all would be well.
Kudos to him for keeping the players together and not allowing them to give up on themselves. This team went on an eight- game winning streak and made it to the 2A state playoffs before losing to Pima. Larrabee and Cade Martin formed one of the most lethal inside-outside tandems this season. The cupboards are not bare for next year.
No one can forget Bulldogs wrestler Ramon Chavez and the effort he exhibited making it to state and winning a couple of matches. Chavez provided leadership for coach Brandon Clor’s young team. Now that you have been to state, you know the dedication and determination it will take not just to stand on the podium, but what it will take to stand in first place on the podium.
Lady Bulldogs first-year coach Tony Kern: there is a lot to like with the players coming back. It took most of the season to implement his high-octane style of basketball. The goal was to create turnovers and force the other team to speed up. It wasn’t easy to come in and coach a team that lost much to graduation. For the most part, Kern’s team was in every game as they finished 5-5 in 3A West play.
The Kingman boys’ basketball team will miss the inside domination of Anthony Pinto. Pinto made an impression when playing against Parker, and one of their players blocked his shot. Not only did the player block his shot, but did it in such a fashion that the ball was calling the tower for permission to land. Nevertheless, Pinto was fearless and kept going to the basket inside, while scoring 28 points.
I will miss one of the sweetest strokes in Jordan Dupee’s shooting and his all-out hustle. If he wants to play at the next level, he can.
Coach Nick Juby has shown improvement in his win total going from eight-to nine wins.
Juby probably has the best point guard in the region coming back in allstate candidate Elijah Howery. Sophomores Jayzon Hundley, and Tobias Bagby, will add depth and scoring. This team will be missing a 3-point shooter to take the pressure off the interior offense. Juby should expect nothing less than winning the 3A West region title.
Soccer coach Kevin Roberts deserves congratulations on a successful 8-4 season, one that ended one game short of the playoffs. But what a ride the 11 seniors gave you. How can you get much better than having the leading goal scorer in Arizona the last two season in Chandler Baca. Baca scored 30, and 31 goals the last two seasons. No one can forget perhaps the best all-around player in the region in Manuel Tadeo.
Soccer-coach David Kopecky victories for the girls may not have been many, but they had fun and played for each other. Several of them shined individually making the 3A West All-Region teams: Abbie Colvig, Erika Anya, Delon Pease, and Kiki Salmon all made second team.
First team All-Region: Desiree Lammers, Lily Mae Garcia
It has been my pleasure to watch you grow in your sports and to entertain us with your best efforts. For some of you seniors who do not play another sport, if this is it as far as your athletic career is concerned find a passion to take the place of sports. For the athletes who want to play at the next level, remember, it all starts with you. If you believe you can, you can.
As sports seasons comes to an end, soon it will be Homecoming time, and after that, all the athletes will be rounding third base and heading for home.