A team that relied heavily on youth and inexperience a year ago is now counting on a squad led by battle-tested veterans.
However, in District 30-5A, were even a couple of Zone losses are enough to wreck a season, the Alice Lady Coyotes are hoping everything they have coming back is enough to again earn a spot in an end-of-the-season InterZone play-in game.
And being around at the end of the season and in line for a postseason bid is what Alice’s goal is, coach Aamanda Gonzalez said.
“We want that experience of playing in the playoffs,” she said. “That’s what we’re striving for. We’re going to continue to work hard for it.”
Overall, the Lady Coyotes have nine returners and four regular starters.
The Lady Coyotes have a solid group of returning starters back led by Criselda Cruz, an all-district wing last season. They also have Kaity Buentello, a senior who started at wing last season back. Sophomore Kayla Escobar stepped in and played a starting role for the Lady Coyotes as a freshman. She too is returning.
Alice has a starter back in junior Jakki Barrera. Barrera, who was the North Zone’s Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2017, is currently sidelined with a knee injury. She expects to be back as early as January.
The Lady Coyotes have a likely starter in the line-up in Taylor Blum, a transfer who was a contributor for Flour Bluff on their run to the state tournament last season.
“All around, I think we’re very quick,” Gonzalez said. “Our speed is awesome. We don’t have any big players to get the ball down low, but I think overall with our speed, if we can develop some outside shooting, we’ll be fine.”
The Lady Coyotes started out slow last season, but picked up their game midway through the season, They battled back and ended up as the second-place team in the North Zone. They dropped a hard-fought play-in game against Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial.
Alice is playing an eight-team scrimmage at Ray High School. The teams in the tournament include each of the Corpus Christi ISD schools, IWA, Orange Grove and Ingleside.
The season begins on the road on Nov. 7 against H.M.King.