By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
Practice has started for the Port Isabel High basketball team and optimism is the order of the day. The Press found head coach Mike Hazelton and the players in Tarpon Gym this week working on their shots and getting in basketball shape.
“The kids have been doing a good job,” Hazelton said Monday. “We’re trying to get them in basketball shape, and that’s where we’re at for the first few days.”
Actually, these guys are ahead of the game when it comes to general conditioning, because they’ve been playing the game and working out in general for months. It only became official last week.
“Those games are not always as intense as the high school games, because you’re playing two, three, four games in one day,” Hazelton told the Press. He referred to the summer league games and tournaments most of the players have been playing since last spring. “You only have so much energy you can expend. So, for the most part, you’re trying to condition them for one game a day.”
The change in personnel is a constant, year-to-year process: players graduate out of the program, and new ones come up from the freshmen and JV ranks.
“We’ve got some kids coming up from JV. I believe they lost three games last year. It’s next man up–that’s just the nature of high school basketball.”
“It’s a lot of conditioning and running,” third year Varsity veteran Cole Pinkerton said. “We need to get in shape. We’re just working on the little things right now that are important. We’re not getting too much into plays or anything.”
“We’ll start mixing in some different sets and plays as we go along this week,” Hazelton said.
“I was ready,” Pinkerton said. “Some people weren’t, and you can tell when they’re gasping for air and asking for water every five minutes. It just takes a little time. Some of the football kids came in today and we’ll see if they’re in condition. The football guys bring a lot of physicality.”
“It’s going great,” senior guard Dennis Lozano told the Press. “It’s going to be a different offense this year.”
Daniel Rinza talked about team chemistry. “We’re all just getting ready to start the season. I think we started getting the team chemistry going way before our practices started. Our chemistry’s there already. The San Benito tournament gave us a big shot of confidence.”
Scrimmages start next week, and the first game will be against Brownsville Jubilee at Tarpon Gym.