“TRUST” IS THE KEY TO MAKING ANOTHER RUN SAYS ATRISCO HERITAGE COACH
The Atrisco Heritage boys basketball team has good guard play with solid three point shooting, but three is not a number they prefer to talk about.
“There’s not talk of three-peat, although they hear it every day from the teachers, they hear it every day from their peers, they hear it every day from Twitter,” said head coach Adrian Ortega. “It’s hard to focus them up because there’s so much media outlets out there.”
Last March, Atrisco Heritage took down Santa Fe in front of a packed Pit to win their second straight state title. “It was incredible, it’s like a moment you won’t forget, it’s like a feeling that you can’t even forget,” said guard Dominic Rivas. “To play in front of 14,000 people, it’s a great experience.”
Adrian Ortega is in his tenth season with the Jaguars. He has another deep backcourt and he says his front court is a work in progress. “We’re a guard-oriented squad and shoot a lot of threes and we rely on our penetration,” said Ortega. “It’s a veteran guard group, but it’s not so veteran inside.”
The Jaguars lost about 20 rebounds a game, but they do return one of the top guards in Joziah Ramos. “It’s been tough coming into the season, but I think we’re starting to get in the flow of things and we’ll be alright,” said senior Joziah Ramos.
What comes with back-to-back state titles is a target. “We do have an X on our back and everyone is going to give us their best shot,” said Rivas. “It’s going to make us push even harder. To get back (to the final) we have to keep working hard and stay with the team, stay focused and stay humble and don’t let all that outside stuff get into our heads.”
If the Jaguars are to make it back to the final game, their coach points to one word as the key… trust…and an early season loss to West Mesa is the perfect example of that.
“I believe that our guards don’t fully trust each other right now,” said Ortega. “They had a lot of chemistry last year, specifically in the state tournament. I think with the experiences they have with AAU, it’s more of a ‘me’ basketball instead of ‘we’ basketball, ‘I’m trying to get exposure, I’m trying to get to colleges’, I firmly believe that we have a little bit of selfishness early and it was identified through our players after our loss to West Mesa. We had a couple players say, ‘I admit it, I played all summer with Marty Saiz or whoever and it’s all about getting mine and I gotta redirect’. The good thing is they saw it and saw it didn’t work and now they have to get back to team ball. So, to answer your question, it’s trust. Our kids have to trust each other.”
The last boys basketball program to win three straight state titles in New Mexico’s largest classification was Hobbs, and they won four in a row from 1999-to-2002.