MESCALERO – There’s one thing Mescalero girls basketball coach Elmer Chavez can’t complain about this season, and that’s experience.
He’s getting every single girl back from last year’s team that went 21-8 with just one loss in district, and he’s expecting a few more for this season.
“We have four first team all district girls returning. I’m very excited about the talent we’ve got coming back,” Chavez said. “Anything short of us being in the state tournament finals will be disappointing to me, because we have the talent to be there, we just have to get it done.”
One thing Chavez can complain about is how his team was bounced from last season’s Class 2A State tournament, a 59-46 loss to Logan which turned on a five-point swing due to a clerical error.
“We played the number one seed. In that game, the scorekeeper messed up and took five points away from us and gave it to the other team,” Chavez said. “They told me it would be corrected, and they never corrected it. That’s not acceptable for a state tournament.”
As a result, Chavez and the Lady Chiefs feel they have something to prove this season, and they’ve been working hard to improve themselves.
“My girls worked hard all summer, went to a UCLA camp and Long Beach camp. Ended up playing 6A teams over there,” Chavez said. “We played well, and I told my girls they have to get so good that they can’t take those games away from us like they did. No matter how bad a day they have, they can still come out on top.
Players back from last year’s squad are seniors Laryn Yuzos, Janessa Melendrez, Ariel Aguilar and Alarah Kirgan. Joining them are Katelyn Yuzos, Paris Davis, Justice Blake and Julie Paz, with freshman Alyn Kirgan set to make an impact.
The real problem has been injuries. Just two games into the season, the Lady Chiefs are already missing Laryn Yuzos, Alyn Kirgan, Blake and Aguilar to either ACLs or sprains.
Still, Chavez said the excitement is palpable across the tribe.
“Everywhere I go on the reservation, to eat, to get gas, at the supermarket, everybody talks about how excited they are for our girls,” Chavez said.
Things have already been up and down the Lady Chiefs, as they lost a squeaker to Tierra Encantada in their season opener, 48-46 and defeated Hondo in their home opener, 60-32.