The McClave Cardinals look to improve on a 7-7 record last season.
The Cardinals hope to make some noise in the High Plains League as they return four of their top five starters.
Jeremy Mallards heads into his seventh year at the helm and will look to talented guards Aiden Martinez and Ayden Gomez to lead the Cardinals as both return a year older and stronger.
Martinez, a 6-1 junior guard, averaged 12.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 2.9 steals last season.
Gomez, a 6-2 junior, guard, also averages in double figures with 11.6 points game along with 8.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.4 steals.
Also returning for the Cardinals and looking to make a strong presence in the paint will be Conner Forgue, a 6-3 sophomore post, who averaged 8.3 points and 6.0 rebounds a game and Caleb Barr, a 6-0 junior post.
“With those four starters returning as well as Braden Marks (a junior), Edguardo Verdu (a junior), Ricardo Cazzinga (a senior), Ray Mungaray (a sophomore), and Kolten Smartt (a junior),we should be very experienced and have more depth than we have had in a long time.”
“Our guys have had to play a lot as freshmen and sophomores due to numbers so I think that experience will start to pay off for us this year,” Mallard added. “We played a lot of games this summer and put a lot of time in the weight room. I feel like we can compete with anyone. We had a lot of close games last year and I feel like we had our opportunities to win and came up short. Learning how to win and close games will be huge for us this year.”
Looking at the High Plains League, it will be loaded with the likes of Granada, the preseason No. 1 as well as No. 7 ranked Cheraw and No. 9 Cheyenne Wells.
“Granada is clearly the favorite this year,” stated Mallard. “They have a very athletic, deep team and are well coached. Cheyenne Wells is also very athletic and play very hard. Cheraw and Wiley will also be tough. Kit Carson is a well-coached and always find ways to compete.”
“Our league will be extremely tough this year,” Mallard went on to say. “We are very excited about this year. Our kids been working extremely hard and our goal is to be one of the best teams in the state at the end of the season. I feel like our guys are ready to take the next step and have been waiting a long time for this season.”