By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
Four Port Isabel Tarpon basketball players made the All-District 32-4A lists for the 2014-’15 season. Fernando “Fernie” Lopez was named to the all-district second team and Christian Garza, Jose Atkinson, and Nick Carillo were named to the Honorable Mention list.
Lopez, a freshman, was brought up at the start of the season and became a contributor almost immediately. “He was one of our most consistent players,” first-year head varsity boys’ basketball coach Nathan Janak told the Press Monday. “He made a lot of freshman mistakes but he just kept on playing hard. He played with a lot of intensity and effort.”
“It was pretty exciting; this is my first year of high school basketball,” Lopez said Monday. “I was at the first practice, and he (Coach Janak) said he wasn’t sure if he would leave me there. I just tried my best.”
About Nick Carillo, a sophomore, Coach Janak said, “Nick had some games where he played really well for us. When we went to Zapata and won there, he had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and that was a big reason we won that one.”
Jose Atkinson, a junior this year, will also be back next season. “He was asked to do a whole lot because he was the only one we had who had any experience,” Janak said. He really understands the game. He’s another kid who loves basketball and loves the game.”
Senior Christian Garza is the only one of these four players who will not return next year. He missed several weeks of the district season with an injury. “He was playing really, really well until about the fifth or sixth game of district when he got hurt, sprained his ankle. He missed about three weeks and then he came back for the last few games. He was great for us because he was the perfect example of doing everything the coaches asked him to do, as best he could. He never said a word, never complained, made every practice, every game. (He was) very quiet but was still a great leader for us.”
Most, if not all, Tarpon players will again participate in summer league hoops this year, and Lopez looks forward to working on his game. “I just want to get better with my shooting because (it’s) not that great. We’ll start June first and play other district teams.” All summer league games will be played in Harlingen.
Coach Janak, stressed the importance of summer league games. “The more games you play, the better you’re going to get. That’s something we hadn’t had here in the past. The kids, once the season is finished, they put up the basketballs and don’t think about it again till next year. So every time they can set foot in the gym, by themselves, shooting, or playing some pick-up games, or these organized summer league games, it’s only going to help them.”
In Coach Janak’s first year on the job, the Tarpons finished the season 6-21 overall, 2-12 in district play. The pair of district wins were two more than the program had the previous season.
“We’ve got a ton of improvement to make,” Janak said this week. “We’re going to have a lot of young, athletic kids with a year of experience. It was tough this year. We took some lumps but we’re already getting summer league stuff set up. We took a step this season.”
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