AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Southside.
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Having taken three teams to the state tournament in a 17-year coaching career, first-year Southside coach Shawn Dalbert has high high aspirations for the Cardinals.
Despite losing its first District 29-5A game by a wide-margin, Dalbert thinks Southside (6-11, 0-1) is close to making a breakthrough. The 75-35 loss to Laredo Martin (7-9, 1-0) Jan. 2 at Southside was not a game to judge the Cardinals by. They were missing seven players in the return from Christmas break.
“Our kids play hard, with a passion,” Dalbert said. “They play until the scoreboard clock hits 0:00. I think, in a couple more games, we are just going to turn the corner.”
Those who weren’t available to Dalbert against Martin included five of the team’s top seven scorers. Their less-experienced replacements couldn’t keep pace with the transition-oriented Tigers.
Robert Hernandez (11 points, 5 rebounds), one of the Cardinals’ usual starters, and Charlie Sanchez made free throws for a 2-0 Southside lead. Then Martin scored on three consecutive possessions to take a 6-2 lead with 6:35 left in the first quarter.
Kevin Zamora scored on a rebound, point guard Ricky Reyes (16 points) stole the inbounds pass and converted a layup and Zamora did the same for a scoring flurry that made Dalbert burn a timeout. By the end of the quarter, the Tigers led 28-8.
“It was our aggressiveness on defense,” Laredo Martin coach Hector Noyola Jr. said. “We were able to score off our defensive pressure. We forced a lot of turnovers.”
Alexander Regalado contributed eight points for the Cardinals, including a three-point basket that brought them within 44-13 at halftime.
Although Southside has yet to get on a roll, the Cardinals have been increasingly competitive, as evidenced by a 64-58 to one of the area’s hottest teams, Holy Cross, Dec. 4. They split a pair of games in the Starr Realty and Ranch Christmas Classic Dec. 28-29 at Uvalde.
The missing Jan. 2 included Alex Rangel, who is Southside’s scoring leader with a 15.9 points per game average. Hernandez is second with a 13.5 average. Rogelio Diaz (9.8) is out with an injury, but is expected to return within the next two weeks.
Dalbert has coached Class 3A Whitewright to two state tournament appearances and Roxton to the 1A Division 2 title in 2013. He and Southside assistant Willis Stewart have coached together for the last 12 years. Dalbert coached with Southside football coach/athletic coordinator Ricky Lock at Gonzales.
“We love our five seniors and we want to make sure they finish their careers in style, by making the playoffs,” Dalbert said. “There’s a state tournament here in San Antonio, and in the next couple of years, we want to be playing there.”