Home Sports Local Sports A look back at Roswell girls’ hoops

A look back at Roswell girls’ hoops

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Look for Roswell freshman Kaitlyn Olguin to make a big splash next season on the inside. (David Rocha Photo)

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It seemed like there was going to be little time for reflection on the hoops season. With the unfortunate coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and with games being canceled, it gives RDR Sports a chance to look back at the season and look ahead. We will look back at both Roswell boys’ and girls’ teams, as well as Goddard.

Today, we look at the Roswell girls’ basketball team. The Lady Coyotes improved their win total from six games in 2019 to seven in 2020. For the second year in a row, fourth-year coach Fernando Sanchez has had to play a lot of underclassmen.

Let’s start with the returning players next season. Junior Mercedes Velasco has played the last two seasons at guard. She’s a good starting piece — Velasco has the handles and can get to the rim. She can hit the three and the mid-range jumper. Velasco just needs more confidence in herself to have a breakout senior season. If Velasco can develop a consistent jumper, she has the potential to be the team’s leading scorer next season.

Sophomore Tori Sandoval is always around the ball and has a knack for scoring in close and grabbing rebounds. Sandoval plays good defense and is long with her arms. Mireya Grajeda has the tools to be a good scoring guard. She can put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket, and isn’t afraid to take a shot.

One of the cornerstones to the team next year will be junior Janae Faust. She led the team in blocked shots and has the uncanny ability to alter shots inside near the basket. More often than not, she would send an opponent’s shot into the front row. Faust is a game-changer on the defensive end of the floor. If she can develop a couple of post-up moves over the summer, she could give the Lady Coyotes the inside-out scoring the team needs.

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A fan of Roswell can picture Faust, Clarissa Vega and Kaitlyn Olguin on the floor at the same time. Vega started most of the season and was a presence on the inside. She can score down low and will get looks. The player that could really add excitement to the lineup is Olguin. She is tall and is able to get her shot off around the rim. Olguin was brought up from junior varsity and played well on varsity when inserted into the lineup.

Roswell will be depending on sophomore Amariah Toscano to help with the scoring next season. (David Rocha Photo)

Amariah Toscano will see playing time next season. One of the hardest-playing players is freshman guard Misha Hawthorn. She didn’t back down from the other team’s best player and she wasn’t afraid to give a hard foul. Hawthorn is a good, hard-nosed player with a bright upside.

Laci Fuller saw time on the varsity and can shoot the three-pointer as well. Sanchez will have to replace ball-handler and guard Jalen Baca. Baca was good at getting the team into their offense. She was not afraid to drive the ball baseline or to the middle. She could occasionally pull up from the outside and take the three. Her defense was underrated. What Roswell will have to replace with Baca: ball-handling and senior leadership.

Roswell will also have to replace their leading scorer in Makenzie Tarin. Tarin did everything on offense. She broadened her game from being just a low post player to where she was bringing the ball up. She extended her jumper to be able to hit the three-point shot. She probably grew more than any player during the season for Roswell.

The bad news for Roswell is they are playing in District 4-5A. They have not won a district game in the last two seasons going 0-12, and they’re 13-41 overall over those seasons. Sanchez has proven he can coach when he has talented kids. In his first season, he led Roswell to a 24-6 overall record and 5-1 district record. Roswell was able to get back to the semifinal championship game in 2016. His overall record at Roswell is a 48-64, and 8-16 in district play in four seasons.

Going forward, Roswell will have to find offense next season and score the basketball. They scored a season-low 14 points against Centennial in the first game of the season. The case can be made that the team didn’t have the volleyball players for that game, but they scored 17 points in back-to-back games against Hobbs and Carlsbad in district play.

Roswell will be at 5A for the next two years as the attendance numbers bear out. The main question is, does the girls’ basketball program have enough to be competitive? No one knows what Roswell has coming up on their freshmen teams and down the line. This could be one of those difficult seasons that all coaches endure.

Former Roswell four-time state championship basketball coach Britt Cooper related he endured a rough first few years at Roswell when he began coaching. If he had not been given a vote of confidence by the athletic director, there would not have been four state titles in the trophy case.

There is no doubt the team has the athletes coming back to make a run. No one doubts Sanchez’s ability to coach. The only question is, is there a mix of coaching and talent fusing at the right time. One could make a good case to be optimistic about Lady Coyotes basketball in 2021.

Up next, RDR Sports will look at the Goddard girls.

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.