Roswell coach Fernando Sanchez is counting on his seniors but none more than Cheyenne Martinez. Martinez has the silky smooth game, in which she looks like she’s not even trying or playing hard — though she is.
Martinez tuned up the Panthers from inside and was able to pop out from the top of the arc and hit three-pointers as if they were layups. Martinez hit a three-pointer with 1:27 left in the first quarter as she gave the Lady Coyotes a 16-4 lead that they would never relinquish or look back from.
Sanchez worked on her game this summer by playing in open gyms hoping to get ready for the season. As a leader, she emphasizes that she has to be patient with the younger players and lead by example and not as much vocally.
“I think one of the things about Cheyenne (Martinez),” Sanchez said, “I think Cheyenne will agree with this, that a leader is different things and a leader doesn’t always have to be the loudest person on the floor. They set the tone by the way they do things and she has done that by setting the tone, by the way she does things on the court and by her actions.”
Coach Sanchez played a lot of young players this game, getting experience for later in the season. The Lady Coyotes, 1-2 on the season, pushed the ball all game and looked to run every chance they got. Roswell trapped and pressed and forced tempo until the Panthers all but gave up, as Roswell defeated them 45-25 Tuesday night at the Coyote Den.
“I thought we started out well,” Sanchez said. “We looked good early on, we hit some shots and defended well. We held them to 10 points in the first half. I thought we got a little comfortable in the second half and didn’t move our feet as well.”
Roswell will be young this season and will go with Jalen Baca at the point guard, replacing Anica Dillard. Coach Sanchez is looking for Baca to get the team in the right tempo and offensive sets, and lead them on defense as they switch zones in their half-court defenses. Sanchez is counting on Baca learning the point guard as the season goes on.
“I didn’t think we moved our feet well in the second half,” Sanchez said. “I thought Skylar Lopez played really well for us. She didn’t score a lot for us, but she did what we asked her to do for us and she did a good job on the boards. I’m extremely proud of our girls. Mercedes Velasco shot the ball well for us tonight.”
Sanchez acknowledges that there could be as many as four sophomores on the floor at one time and he is going to have to be patient and coach this team as they grow and mature. Sanchez is counting on Martinez to be a leader in her quiet way. He also wants his team to get better every practice they have this season, which he hopes will translate into victories.
The Lady Coyotes lost to Las Cruces 55-50 in their first game at Las Cruces. They had their chance to get them but had only practiced five times before the game. Sanchez moved the game up so his team could enjoy watching the Coyotes win the football state championship. In that game, fatigue caught up with his team.
Fatigue carried carried over in their next game as they lost to Centennial. Against Centennial, they shot 11 percent from the field and ended up losing 56-20.
“This is a young group,” Sanchez said. “When you shoot 11 percent from the field in a game you’re going to be in trouble. We like to get up and down the court and we took a lot of shots in that game we just couldn’t finish. I’m excited by this group that we have this year.”
Sanchez is happy to be 1-2 at this point in the season and more encouraged that his players are hungry to improve and win. Sanchez loves the camaraderie and the closeness of his team. He also feels like they have such good work ethic and desire to get better in their play that it will lead to a more cohesiveness and improve their basketball IQ.
“We are expecting to come and play this year,” Sanchez said. “We expect to win when we step on the floor. This is a great group to work with.”