Dreams do come true. For sixth-year Hagerman basketball coach Andrew Rodriguez, this has been a love affair with Hagerman. It dates back to 2005-06, when he donned the green and white. Rodriguez was a good player and played for coach Anthony Mestas.
As a senior, Rodriguez led the team to a final four appearance and came up a little short in losing to eventual champ Des Moines. Rodriquez came back to Hagerman to coach under Mestas. Once Mestas decided to take on bigger challenges and coach at Goddard, Rodriquez was given the job.
“Andrew played for me his junior and senior year,” Mestas said. “He was a good player for me. He was my assistant coach for me for two years. He was a good, hard worker. When I left Hagerman, my request was for him to be the head basketball coach.”
Rodriguez has filled in admirably as the Bobcats’ coach. This was one of his better seasons on the bench (15-11, 4-2 in District 4-2A). The ‘Cats started rocky, going 5-6 before getting on a winning streak. The team lost their last three games, which shut them out of the playoffs.
Hagerman had five seniors who have been contributors for the past two years. Jose Rodriguez, Chris Becerra, Ricardo Jaramillo, Dominic Villa and Isaiah Salazar. Jose and Ricardo were leading scorers.
“They have all worked hard,” Coach Rodriguez said, “and developed into outstanding young men and tough basketball players. I am proud of them and appreciate all the work they have put in throughout their careers.”
The ‘Cats were deep and able to go to the bench as Coach Rodriguez played 10-11 guys this season. As this season ends, Coach Rodriguez looks ahead to next season. The Bobcats will have height and his team will be athletic. They will have Jose Jaramillo back, who will be a senior and will stand at 6-foot-4, if he doesn’t grow any over the summer.
“What I like about Jose’s (Jaramillo) game,” Coach Rodriguez said, “he’s tough inside and on the boards. He will have help in guard Dominic Medrano and Luis Veloz.”
The strength of the team will be their junior class. Coach Rodriguez says it is deep and six of the players will be battling for a starting position along with three seniors. Next season, the key to the team will be competing and getting better. With an abundance of talent coming back, look for the team to force the issue and run on offense.
On defense, they will press and play man-to-man depending on the team. Roberto DelaCruz is ready to step up and be the point guard.
“Jonah Bejarano has had playing experience,” Coach Rodriguez said, “he is ready to step into a larger role. Abel Alvidrez is fast and can lock down people defensively; and then Doryan Galvan, Sebastian Mireles and Amen Gonzales will all be in the mix, too. Finally, David Chacon, who is a 6-foot-5 freshman will return and has a lot of potential. Our underclassmen are hungry and eager to prove themselves and have learned that it takes hard work to accomplish their goals.”
Coach Rodriguez feels like for the team to get to where they want to be, it comes down to the little things: his players being able to get to the gym. He likes his team’s toughness but knows they can’t rely on talent to get it done.
Making both the all-district team and the all-region team is Jose Rodriguez. For all-district, it is Ricardo Jaramillo and Jose Jaramillo. Chris Becerra and Hector Salazar received honorable mention.
Coach Rodriguez spoke about each team member that was recognized.
On Jose Rodriguez, he said, “He was the motor that made the engine go. He was all over the place offensively and defensively. What I like is that he turned into a pretty good leader this year for us.”
Coach Rodriguez’s thoughts on Ricardo Jaramillo were, “Great kid. He was a good scorer — we could always turn to him for a bucket if we needed to.”
Coach Rodriguez said of Jose Jaramillo, “He’s a big kid. He was a presence in the paint and worked hard for us. He worked the offensive and defensive boards for us.”
“Chris Becerra and Hector Salazar were both good hustlers,” Coach Rodriquez said. “They would chip in scoring and they were good role players and teammates.”
“Our goal at Hagerman is to win a blue trophy,” Coach Rodriguez said, “but we always have smaller goals as the year progresses. In the summer, we want to do well in camps and then achieve the small goals throughout the year. Another of those small goals is to win tournaments and the district crown. If we can get those goals accomplished, then we have a shot at the blue trophy, which is our ultimate goal.”
Hagerman basketball won their first blue trophy in 1924. Their next two were under Mestas. Now, Coach Rodriguez is looking to add his name as a coach to the trophy.
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or email@example.com.