MATHIS – The Mathis Pirate basketball team set many goals at the onset of the season under first-year coach AJ Maldonado, and it paid off as the Pirates landed several spots in the 29-3A All-District team.
The team was led by Jonathan Villarreal who was selected as District 29-3A Offensive Player of the Year and made the All-Region team. “When I first got the job, Jonathan and I sat, and we talked about our goals for the coming year. All his goals were team oriented. He had a lot of accomplishments throughout the year, but none of those mattered to him if the team was not doing good. All he wanted to do was win, make the playoffs and make a run,” Maldonado said.
Another crucial piece for the Pirates was senior Isaac Gutierrez. “Gutierrez was essentially the motor that kept the engine going, for lack of better words. Gutierrez was 1st Team All-District and gathered some votes for Defensive Player of the Year but came up just short. He is the defensive player of the year in my eyes. I was constantly matching him up with opposing teams best offensive players, and he was right there playing them the toughest. The style of play we were accustomed to is not easy for anybody to do, but Isaac did it and never complained. Offensively, he would see things on the court way before anybody else would,” Maldonado added.
Marcos Alvarado also received a superlative, named the Newcomer of the Year. “Marcos was huge for us throughout district play. Marcos really fell into his role throughout the year and gave us some big-time minutes in district. He was one of the leading scorers in the district as a sophomore and helped on the rebounding game as well,” Maldonado said.
Darion Rodriguez was named to the 2nd team along with Carlos Acosta while Ethan Munoz and Jacob Martinez were named to the Honorable Mention team.
“All in all, it was a successful season; we were District Runner-Ups, Bi-District Champs and Area Qualifiers. I came in with my idea and what I wanted to do, and the kids took and ran with it, literally. The fast style of play and the pressing and run and gun is not for everybody and definitely different than what they were used to, but they bought in, and we used it to our advantage. I was lucky to have this great group of kids my first year as the head coach,” Maldonado said.