‘Zozo girls growing the program

Photo by Todd Fuqua Carrizozo senior Hailey Barela, left, and freshman Kaitlin Guevara will be integral parts of the Grizzly basketball team this season.

CARRIZOZO – Fans of the Carrizozo girls basketball team will be seeing a very familiar scene this season.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Joana Vega was a big part of last season’s team, but will be on the bench start this season with a knee injury.

Just like they did in volleyball, the Grizzlies will have to contend with inexperience and youth.

“We’re rebuilding, so we’re not looking for this year,” said Carrizozo coach George Vega. “We’re looking a few years down the road.”

Last season was a rebuilding one, as well, as the Grizzlies won just five games and were winless in District 2-1A.

That team relied heavily on eighth graders Suntana Zamora, Kaitlin Guevara and Joana Vega.

Those three are freshmen now, but Zamora has transferred to Tularosa, while Vega is hobbled by a knee injury.

At least it was a different knee that kept her from playing most of the volleyball season.

“I heard it’s pretty serious. If we do get her back, it will be late in the year,” coach Vega said of Joana’s injury. “We were looking forward to having her back, so that’s a big disappointment.”

Photo by Todd Fuqua Cleo Shanks had limited minutes as an eighth grader last season for Carrizozo.

To fill in the gaps, Vega has had to pull up a pair of eighth graders for this year.

It’s not that the Grizzlies are without a senior, but that’s just it. Hailey Barela is the only senior on the squad, while D’Anna Willingham rounds out the team as a sophomore.

“We put in some young girls last year and they did great,” Vega said. “We’ll see what they learned last year, and see what they bring this year.”

Vega’s goal – the goal of every coach – is to get at least a spot in the State playoffs.

But to do that, they’ll have to get through the District 2-1A tournament.

“Quemado’s very strong, Animas is strong,” Vega said. “It’ll be a fight between us and Reserve for that third spot. That’s what happened in volleyball.

“We’re the low man on the totem pole,” he added. “We’ll need to work on building the system again.”

Building that system means starting from the very bottom.

“We’ll be working on fundamentals. If you can do that, then we’ll be doing pretty good,” Vega said. “You have to learn to dribble, to pass, to take the pressure, and most of all make those easy baskets.

“If we beat ourselves, we’ll never be able to win,” he added. “Fundamentals is where it’s at.”

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