After 12 seasons as a trusted assistant basketball coach to Roswell’s living legend Britt Cooper, it’s now Moses “Dude” Burrola’s time. Burrola moves over one seat to make all the decisions and try to keep the dynasty going. His first test came in the season opener on the road against the Chaparral Lobos.
The Coyote defense was the key to the game as they held the Lobos to four points in the third quarter. Roswell received an offensive explosion from Tarren Burrola. Tarren Burrola scored 28 points and 6-foot-7 Logan Eaker was wheeling and dealing around the basket to score 17 points. Freshman Taymon Burrola added 14 points as Roswell defeated the Lobos, 77-45, at Chaparral Gym Tuesday night.
Roswell played run and gun in the first half, leading by as much as 20 points. The Coyote press worked well and led to turnovers and easy points. In the second half, Roswell got into foul trouble and had to slow the pace of the game and play a half-court game.
Roswell played the game with seven players. The defending state champ Coyotes started three seniors, a junior and a sophomore. With the football team still playing, several members of the basketball team are still playing football, getting ready to face Belen in the semifinal game Saturday.
The Coyotes played without Justin Carrasco, Dominic Nava, Jasia Reese, Dylan Tucker and big man Victor Bolanos. Bolanos has not played basketball since he was a freshman, but at 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, look for him to bang inside with the other team’s enforcers.
“We’re going to be pretty deep,” coach Burrola said. “That’s what’s good about not having the football kids right now. We are having to rely on some kids who normally would be playing junior varsity, but they had to be thrown into the fire. As we get into the district and the state tournament, we are going to need guys to step up just in case of an injury or foul trouble.”
Most of the football players played during the last season’s state title run. What Dude Burrola likes about his team is they have played under pressure when it counts. Carrasco and Reese bring blur speed and quickness when the Coyotes go into their press and force tempo on their fast break.
Tuesday night, coach Burrola played some younger players to get them experience when district play begins.
“Our young kids who stepped in last night did a good job for us,” coach Burrola said. “They weren’t afraid, and they played pretty well.”
Nothing has changed since Cooper has retired. Roswell wants to press, and get up and down the floor and score as quickly as possible. Look for the Coyotes to come off the bus shooting and try to break 100 points every chance they get.
If a team dictates tempo and slows it down, and the Coyotes have to play a half-court game, they can do that. Roswell can play a street-ball type of game, taking their man off the dribble or going one-on-one looking for a shot at the rim or a drive-and-kick type of scoring opportunity. If things get too hectic, they will go to a pick-and-roll game, depending on the team and situations. Coach Burrola stresses versatility with his basketball team.
He has been experimenting with a new trap and zone defense this camp. Normally, they play man to man, and press after scoring.
“The thing with us, (other teams) know what is coming and a lot of times, it’s not a lot they can do to stop it,” coach Burrola said. “They have to hold up to the pressure.”
Sophomore point forward Miguel Baray has been a pleasant surprise in camp. Baray is a transfer student from Rio Rancho.
Coach Burrola understands the pressure of taking over for Copper. There’s the home winning streak, the Poe Corn Tournament wins and they haven’t lost a district game in a while.
“I understand there’s pressure,” coach Burrola said. “I get all of that, but this is a new team, and last year is last year; the past is what it is. We must continue what we’re doing and try to be successful. Winning is contagious, and these guys understand that. I think we can move forward and continue the winning tradition we’ve had here.”
The next game will be against the Onate Knights. The Knights (2-0) are a 6A team from Las Cruces area. This season, the Knights beat Alamogordo, 58-34, on Nov. 14, and defeated Santa Teresa, 84-34, on Tuesday night.
“Onate is going to be hard to handle,” coach Burrola said, “especially with us being shorthanded. It will be a test for us.”
The Knights lost a lot of players last season due to graduation. Onate is a young team and as athletic as the Coyotes. Look for Onate to try to press the Coyotes and run with them. The Knights have a new first-year coach, Michael Nanez.
“The main thing for us right now,” coach Burrola said, “is we have to find a leader. We lost Chris Mesquita last year. He was our go-to guy. He ran the show for us. He wasn’t our best basketball player, but he was a heck of a leader. We’re trying to replace him and find someone with those leadership qualities. We need to find someone to run the show when we need it.”
Burrola feels like the program already has high expectations. He will continue to stress the things Roswell basketball is about: work ethic, discipline and hard play.
“I believe if we continue to do what’s best for the kids,” Burrola said, “we’ll be fine.”
Roswell opens at home against Onate at 4 p.m. Saturday.