RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas —
The 2008-09 basketball season tipped off at Randolph High School and both the girls and boys' squads have already piled up substantial wins.
The Randolph boys are 15-1 overall and 1-0 in District 27-2A play, with two tournament titles to their credit, and the Lady Ro-Hawks are now 14-4 overall with a 3-0 mark in District 27-2A play.
Head coach Tim Gendron, in his 12th season as head coach and supported by 20-year RHS assistant Jerry Gonzalez, welcomed three returning starters and has seen instant production from the collective group.
"Mark Hopkins is an all-district and all region player who has been a starter here for three straight years," Gendron said. "Kyle McNally is our 'coach on the floor' and Steven Pompa is another guy that just has a knack for how to play the game. All three of them are seniors and any time you have that much experience, not to mention true talent, you are going to be in a good position."
The Ro-Hawks earned first-place awards at tournaments in Bandera and Marion thanks to the unique chemistry among the roster of 12 players. Against Fredricksburg in the championship game at Bandera, Matt Atwell drained a pair of late 3-pointers which preceded a winning bucket by Jacorian Duffield.
"Atwell is a junior who starts at the four-spot, but is not limited to inside play," Gendron said. "He rebounds well and alters shots with his long arms, but he can stretch defenses, too, with his ability to shoot from the outside."
Josh Dodgen is a talented post player and joins fellow sophomore Duffield in earning lots of minutes. Junior point guard Tyler Rubio got some key floor time early but an injury opened the door for senior Justin Nadeau to also get minutes in the backcourt.
Seniors Jack Rush and Quinton Barfield, plus sophomore Reece Washington, round out the squad and everyone on the roster has seen playing time so far.
"We have a chance to have an excellent season because of our depth and the leadership tendencies of players on this team," Gendron said.
The Ro-Hawks were rated 15th in a preseason Top 20 statewide 2A poll, but endured the loss of two potential starters whose parents PCS'd from Randolph. The program has earned playoff berths in all but one season since 1991.
Diminutive guards Jazzmin Washington and Elena Gumbs have handled the ball well, said head coach Stacy Bessire, and the Lady Ro-Hawks appear to be ready to make their case for District 27-2A superiority.
"We are getting good guard play, but we really have gotten solid play throughout the lineup," said first-year coach Bessire, who arrived at RHS after a stint at Wagner High in the 5A ranks. "We've had some early wins in district play and I think we can play with most of the teams on our schedule."
Tamoya Morrison and Washington are the only seniors on the squad, while sophomores Ria Rivers and Liz Rivera round out the starting five. Gumbs is only a freshman but plays with a high level of maturity.
Post players Ebony Collins and Emily Jones have come off the bench for quality minutes and possible future contributors include junior Ashlee Allen and sophomore Shakiri Carson.
"Besides the guard position, we don't have that big of a difference in the type of players on the team," said Bessire, who is assisted by Edward Padilla. "Most of the players who come off the bench have similar capabilities so we know what each of them can give us. If someone is having a bad night, we can bring someone else in."
Junior post player Alyssa Chenaille may prove to be a force in the low post, but has been out of the lineup with an injury thus far.
"Something I am really happy about is the dedication shown by these players," Bessire said. "There is a real commitment to the team concept here at Randolph and I think it's that way for most of the student-athletes in all the sports. Coaches love it when they recognize that, believe me."
During December, the Randolph girls did well in tournament play and won recently, for the first time in several years, against rival Cole High.
In action earlier this week, both Randolph squads tallied district wins against Blanco High.