There were whispers last season about Roswell Coyotes first-year basketball coach Moses “Dude” Burrola. Fair or unfair, no matter what he did, it wasn’t good enough or it could have been done better if the legend was on the bench. People forget it took a 30-year coaching career for Britt Cooper to become a legend and he didn’t win his first state title until 2000.
Not only did Burrola have the pressure of taking over for Cooper, but he also had the pressure of being the defending state champion, with a team that was expected to make a deep run into the playoffs, if not win it all again and go back to back.
People forget that Cooper had years to deal with playing his son, Sterling, and the scrutiny that comes with it. Burrola had to deal with that his first year on the job as well. He also had to deal with not only playing one son on the team but by the end of the year, he was playing his freshman son, Taymon. There wasn’t time for Burrola to breathe deep because every move he made was scrutinized by fans, players, parents and the media.
Last season was one of growth for Burrola — there wasn’t time for him to adjust and know the rigors of being the head man. Last season was tough in that the Coyotes lost games at home they never had lost before. For most of the season, he tried to make sure he played the right players at the right time and yet, keep them fresh over the season. Burrola had to figure out how to use Logan “Eraser” Eaker to go along with their press and pressure defense and on offense how to integrate the speed of Jasia Reese, Dominic Nava and Isaiah Carmona. On the wings, he had to figure out how to get enough minutes for Dylan Tucker and Patrick Brown as well as other combinations down the stretch.
Most of last season was a work in progress: It was a season the Coyotes uncharacteristically lost games at home, the district crown at home to Artesia and a district tournament game to Lovington, 69-68. Burrola was able to right the ship and win a home playoff game against Del Norte in a blowout to make it to the quarterfinals where they almost knocked off eventual state champions Belen, 60-53.
In that game was the coming out party of Taymon Burrola — he led the team in scoring after coming back from a 15-0 deficit. The thing that had plagued the team last season was at times they had trouble breaking the press and making their free throws at key moments of the game.
Fast forward to this season and the Coyotes are more comfortable playing the uptempo style — they want to get up and down the court, pressure the basketball and force the other team into turnovers, same as they have always played, but things are different this year. The team is more relaxed and playing basketball without the expectation of being the hunted — now Roswell is the hunter going after the powerhouses in 5A.
Roswell can play Coyotes basketball, they can have fun. They have two-time All-State player Tarren Burrola back. Tarren may have the quickest release on his three-point shot in the state. He is an early-season candidate for Player of the Year.
On Friday night, Roswell lost to Cleveland, 100-97. The Coyotes were in the game until the last two minutes of the game. Roswell had four steals and on the last steal, officials called fouls. Roswell then loses both their defensive speed and quickness on the floor when Nava and Reese fouled out. Miguel Baray would end up in foul trouble. As the season has gone along, the bench has stepped up and played well.
“We outplayed them in every part of the game,” Roswell coach Moses “Dude” Burrola said. “Size got us in the end, we couldn’t get key rebounds. I’m happy how we played but frustrated because we controlled the game all night.”
Taymon Burrola scored 35 points and his brother Tarren added 34 points. Cristian de la O had 10 points. Miguel Baray added nine points.
“Dominic Nava and Jasia Reese created shots,” “Dude” Burrola said. “Both of those guys penetrated all game and controlled the ball all night. Our press and defense was outstanding. This game was just frustrating that we played so well and fell short.”
This season the Coyotes have turned the page on last season and are playing basketball like they used to. Roswell opened this season at home against Centennial with a 70-52 win at the Coyote Den. This is a game they were up by double digits and never really challenged. Tarren Burrola hit four three-point shots, senior Nate Dutchover had 12 points and Taymon Burrola added 11 points.
In their second game of the season, they smashed Mayfield on the road, 83-42.
“Our defense was a solid game,” “Dude” Burrola said. “Miguel Baray played his best game since becoming a Coyote. Cristian de la O played great defense on Jorrell Satterfield all night and had a great offensive night scoring 18 points.”
Tarren Burrola hit five three’s and Taymon finished with 11 points.
In the third game of the season Roswell played St. Mike’s, 67-56.
“We didn’t play very good in the first half,” “Dude” Burrola said. “We played a lot better in the second half. We looked a little bit rusty, but we were able to keep it together and get the win.”
In the Coyotes’ toughest game of the young season, they managed to hang on for a 68-66 win. Roswell was behind all game until the fourth quarter. The Coyotes took the lead with three minutes to play as Dominic Nava fresh off three interceptions in the football championship game scored 18 points. Stepping in as the big man this year is Baray who had 17 points. Another double-digits scorer was footballer Reese as he chipped in with nine points.
“When we play Santa Fe,” “Dude” Burrola said, “it will be a good test for us. Santa Fe is undefeated. We are gaining experience with playing these good teams early.”
In the championship game against Santa Fe, the Coyotes fell 83-69 for their first loss of the season.
A bad first half and four players with foul trouble doomed them. With a large difference in fouls, Roswell committed 24 in the first half to Santa Fe’s eight, it took the Coyotes out of their game.
“We had to play some of our younger kids,” “Dude” Burrola said. “It was a hostile environment and it was a lot to ask of those young kids. It was a good learning experience and we need to learn how to keep our composure when things are not going our way.”
Roswell had a chance to win the game and was down seven points but lost four players as they fouled out, sealing the game for Santa Fe.
“We had a great tournament,” “Dude” Burrola said. “We beat two quality teams and had some players step up and play well all weekend. Baray and Dutchover were selected as all-tournament team. Nava, Reese and Taymon Burrola were solid all weekend.”
On Thursday, the Coyotes played in the Storm Tournament and beat El Paso Franklin, 63-59. Roswell was up as much as 14 points. Franklin was a big and athletic team that made a move and cut the lead to four points late in the game. Rhett Stokes hit a three-point shot late in the game to turn back Franklin. Tarren Burrola hit four three-pointers and finished with 17 points.
Manzano 74, Goddard 66
Goddard has been led by senior Derek Carrica, who scored 25 points against Division I prospect of Manzano and point guard Brandon Montanez came alive with 18 points. The Rockets came to win, not play well, despite their good team effort, it was not enough as they lost to Manzano, 74-66 Friday night at the Joe Armijo Invitational.
“We battled all game,” Goddard coach Anthony Mestas said. “We were down by 15 points and we cut the lead to five in the second half.”
Goddard cut the lead to five points but a Manzano player hit a three to make it an eight-point lead. The thing that Mestas feared was that his team could not get into foul trouble, because they didn’t have the depth and that is what happened. Manzano ended up shooting 37 free throws in the game, most of them in the fourth quarter.
“Derek (Carrica) went into beast mode,” Mestas said. “I’m super proud of my team, they hurt us in the fourth quarter.”
Goddard will play today at 4:45 p.m. against Onate.
Roswell 65, Los Alamos 64
There are the highs of the highs with a young team and then lows of the lows. Roswell coach Fernando Sanchez did some should searching and coaching as he got his team ready to play just three days after being blown out at home against Lovington.
Whatever it is — keep doing it Lady Coyotes. Roswell trailed by as much as 16 points early in the game. Sanchez made a couple of adjustments and his team never gave up and chipped away with a balanced scoring attack as junior Jalen Baca hit a layup with four seconds left to play in the game.
Roswell was led in scoring by Cheyenne “Ice” Martinez with 19 points, Baca had 15 points, Makenzie Tarin added 14 and Anita Trusan chipped in with 10 points.