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Bobcats take advantage of lone summer work out

Hagerman Bobcat basketball coach Andrew Rodriguez goes over instructions during the Artesia Bulldog Team Camp Friday. (Mike Smith Photo)

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It could be said that people like to slow down during the summer months. For Andrew Rodriguez, the head coach of the Hagerman Bobcats basketball team, that adage has been a true statement.

“It’s hard to get these kids in, a lot of them are working or doing summer school. Any chance we get into the gym, we take it,” Rodriguez said.

The Bobcats one chance to get a summer workout in took place late last week at the Bulldog Team Camp in Artesia.

“This is our first one,” Rodriguez said. “It was hard to get some kids in and then I had a busy schedule as well, so we missed the Roswell Team Camp, just because of conflicts of schedules. This is our first and only activity of the summer.”

Rodriguez was using the two day camp to assess his personnel for the upcoming season.

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“I’ve got a big freshman class coming in,” Rodriguez said. “I have a lot of sophomores and juniors that played junior varsity last year. I want to see what they can do at the varsity level and just kind of get a feel for what I have going into next season and work on our skills to get better.”

The Bobcats lost nearly a handful of seniors from last year’s 12-16 squad. The biggest loss, according to Rodriguez, is Osbaldo Najera. The 6-footer played guard and forward.

“He played in the All-Star game and made All-District,” Rodriguez said. “We also lost Chris Manz and Martin Trevizo. Those two made All-District for me as well. We lost three seniors that contributed pretty well.”

While the Bobcats may have lost some figures from last year’s team, Rodriguez said Hagerman’s shelves are stocked with some experience.

“Jose Rodriguez, he’s got a lot of experience last year stepping into roles that he wouldn’t normally see,” Rodriguez said.

The 5-foot-5 guard will be a junior this year.

“He will be a key one,” Rodriguez added.

Rodriguez is also anticipating the return of 6-foot senior guard-forward Jakob Bejarano, who missed last season due to an injury.

“We missed him a lot last year,” Rodriguez said. “So if we can keep him healthy, he’ll do really good for us.”

Rodriguez is also counting on 5-foot-7 senior point guard Martin Flores and 6-foot-3 senior center Jose Jaramillo to be a force for the Bobcats.

When it comes to last year’s record, Rodriguez said there were two sides to the season.

“It was rough when it came to the record,” Rodriguez said. “It was a joy for me. The kids I had last year, they didn’t let that record get them down. They played their hearts out. They brought it every single game and made it a lot of fun regardless of what the record said. So this year, we’re hoping to turn it around and do a little better.”

This coming season, the Bobcats will see some new competition in District 4-2A. The New Mexico Activities Association is going to back to five classes in basketball after having six classes compete for the past few years.

“Classification has gotten a little bit tougher,” Rodriguez said. “Our district is going to be tough. I think with the kids we’ve got coming back, we’ll do a little bit better.”

Gateway Christian from Roswell and Tatum have left Class 2A for Class 1A.

“We’ll have Loving, Jal, us and Eunice,” Rodriguez said of the new district.

Jal and Hagerman are the holdovers and Rodriguez said the Bobcats are no stranger to competing against the Falcons and Cardinals.

“We know Jal really well,” Rodriguez said. “It seems like we’ve been in their district forever. We play Eunice home and away every year and Loving home and away. It’s going to be real tough and it’s going to be real competitive. The district down here always is. I don’t know who’s really the front runner going in, it’s up for grabs and it usually is every year.”

Now that the Artesia camp is out of the way, Rodriguez can look back on what the Bobcats did and come up with a game plan by the time fall practice starts.

“This is just kind of feeling out who I’ve got and what I got and putting together what I think we’ll be good at and start kind of organizing plays and stuff and defenses based on the personnel we’ve got,” Rodriguez said.

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