Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
It’s too bad that basketball is not Roswell’s Makenzie Tarin’s first love. If so, she might have made all-state. Tarin’s calling is softball.
But all Roswell girls’ basketball fans can appreciate the effort she gave to the Lady Coyotes this season. It was a season where she was voted to the District 4-5A, second-team all-district team, and all southeast regional team as well.
“I’m very honored,” Makenzie Tarin said, “to be chosen to the all-district and all-regional teams. It makes the four years worth it.”
For Tarin, this is a season of highs after all she has overcome in her basketball career. She tore her ACL in her sophomore year. She fought to get back on the court to play. It was frustrating that she had to play with a knee brace, which limited her mobility. The knee brace took Tarin some getting used to and affected her quickness and lateral movement.
“For Makenzie Tarin,” Roswell coach Fernando Sanchez said, “She has always over-performed, especially for the position she played. When she walked into the gym, she wasn’t this towering figure, yet she could score inside and outside.”
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For Tarin it took a whole season to get comfortable playing with the brace. Tarin was a good player before the injury and watching her play, a fan could tell that she was thinking about making a move before going ahead and making that move.
Tarin was a post player and often had to go against taller players. Her game was one of power first-step quickness and shielding the defender with her body as she made a sweeping shot in the lane.
With Roswell having trouble scoring the ball this season, Tarin took it upon her shoulders to become the go-to person on offense. Most of the time Tarin was the first, second and third option on the offensive end of the floor.
Tarin’s game became so good that she expanded her offense. Instead of staying in the low-post and matching up against the taller players, she would take them out to the three-point line and promptly bury the three-pointer.
It wasn’t until the end of this basketball season that Tarin became comfortable in her game and on the court. When that happened Tarin discarded the knee brace and came out of her shell. She was confident her knee would hold up.
“I think she maximized her potential,” Sanchez said. “She is probably one of the smartest kids on the court. She understood sports really well. She always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. She was a perfect example of what we hope kids work to be.”
When she knew her knee would last, she flashed a game to match her talents. Her confidence allowed coach Sanchez to use Tarin at point guard later in the season when Lady Coyotes’ point guard Jalen Baca had to miss a couple of games.
“My senior year of basketball, “Tarin said, “brought me out of my comfort zone. I was so used to playing my post-game and never imagined I would be anything else.”
Tarin, a post player, was asked to bring the ball up and to break the other team’s press. This opened up another dimension to her game, she was able to see the floor and set her teammates up for an easy basket. Her value to the team was such that she hardly ever came off the floor unless she was in foul trouble. Tarin averaged 14 points a game.
“Senior year expanded my game,” Tarin said. “I was not only an inside player, but it made me a shooter from the outside. I wasn’t afraid to pull up and shoot a three or bring the ball down the court.”
Jalen Baca’s contribution to the Lady Coyotes’ basketball team cannot be measured in numbers. When she missed a couple of games coach Sanchez had to move his best player, Tarin, to the point guard position. That move was made to help Roswell get the ball up the court in order to have a chance to score.
Baca’s value was that she kept defenses honest with her ability to pull up and take the three-point shot. She was also fearless in driving into the heart of the defense in the lane and shooting it over the bigger players. No matter how many times she was rebuffed she would keep going into the lane.
Baca was fearless on the court. Baca’s true value was on the defensive end of the floor where she was able to stay with the quickest of guards and helped set the defense for Roswell’s press.
On the court Baca didn’t talk trash, she just played fundamental, sound basketball and provided senior leadership. Baca rarely turned the ball over, which is what the team missed when she was out those games.
She helped Roswell win one more game than the team did her junior year. Roswell’s won-loss record might not have been what the team hoped for but she and Tarin helped set a tradition for the younger girls to follow in how to play Lady Coyote basketball.
For her efforts, other coaches in the district noticed her selfless play and her value. The coaches named Baca honorable mention all-district as a senior.
“Jalen Baca was one of the most important players,” Sanchez said, “that didn’t get those visible stats on a team. I mean that in so many ways. That young girl was handling the ball 70% of the time. She kept us in position to do some good things. Her play kept us in a lot of games.
“She did a job that a lot of people don’t appreciate. We could tell when Jalen wasn’t in the game, because of how big of a void that left us. I think she was the most underrated player on our team.”
Freshman Kaitlyn Olguin shows it’s not where you start the season but where you end it. Olguin started the season playing on the junior varsity team. For most of the season, she gained valuable experience playing for next season.
As a freshman Olguin’s late-season heroics have not gone unnoticed by the district 4-5A coaches as they named her honorable mention as a freshman. Pretty heady stuff for a freshman that played exclusively in district games. She would come in to give one of the bigger players a breather and had the uncanny ability to get the rebound and go back up with it and get a shot off or get fouled.
She would calmly hit her free throws. Olguin can grab a rebound from players that have her boxed out. It is that kind of potential that has coach Sanchez salivating at the opportunity to work with her for the next three years.
Her game closely resembles Carlsbad’s Kaliyah Montoya. Montoya will be graduating this spring, but with a couple of refined inside post moves — and if she can add a three-point shot to her game — Olguin has the chance to be a nightmare matchup for opposing teams.
“She’s got a lot of improvement to do,” Sanchez said. “She has a lot of upsides. I felt like her missing the first six weeks of the season with a broken wrist was rough. She was our second-leading scorer in the district. She works her tail off and she’s an absolute sponge when we’re working with her. She’s a huge threat offensively and has to become a presence defensively.”
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or email@example.com.