Elite RGV basketball teams were tested early in the postseason. Noah Sekinger made sure his Edinburg Vela SaberCats passed those tests with flying colors.
Vela dispelled playoff opponents from Brownsville Hanna, Laredo United and Laredo United South before falling in the regional semifinal to Cibolo Steele.
Sekinger was a force during the playoff run. He scored a combined 75 points in four games. His high of 24 points came during the loss to Steele, and his team was able to survive Laredo United, even when he only put in 11 points.
His team was ready whether Sekinger was on his game or not. During non-district play, the forward went down with a leg injury and his team had to learn to manage without a dominant scorer. Of course, the senior would have preferred to be on the court, but he tried turning missed time into a learning opportunity.
“I got to see the game in different ways, the way the coach wanted us to see,” Sekinger said. “At the beginning of the year, we were kind of figuring out who we were. Trying to see if we were giving it too much or if the guards need to shoot a little more. It really allowed these guys to grow and get more confidence in themselves, not only in their scoring ability but in their ability to play basketball in general.”
Vela lost to Laredo United twice during non-district and once to Laredo United South. But it was a whole different group of SaberCats in February, when they knocked out both teams in back-to-back rounds.
On the court, his talent speaks for itself. But some of his most important features might be the way he thinks through the game and his ability to elevate his teammates’ play around him.
“The key to being a great teammate is about pushing your guys to always want to do better for themselves and knowing that they can always do better than the performance they’ve always given,” Sekinger said. “If you don’t demand the best out of them, how can they demand the best out of themselves? Especially on those days when they’re tired, they have a lot of homework, might be going through some stuff at home. Maybe they don’t want to come out here and perform, but you have to go out there as a leader.”
Vela coach Lucio Rodriguez, who was Sekinger’s third coach in four seasons, said having such a mature player in a leadership role helped the program shine.
“What people don’t see beyond the basketball court is he’s just a great kid,” Rodriguez said. “To have someone like him as a basketball player and as a leader for our program, it was very fortunate for me.”
The whole-package player is also a whole-package student. As Sekinger looks for a place to continue his basketball career, he has a biology degree in mind for the next step.
“He’s a kid with a great head on his shoulders. He knows what he wants to do,” Rodriguez said. “Very respectful gentleman, always trying to give and not to take. He’s a top 10% kid, maintains all As. He’s a very driven kid. Those kids like that don’t come around often.
Sekinger plays AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) travel basketball with top players from around the Valley. He has a message for the up-and-comers, the next crop that aspires to leave a legacy on border ball.
“To reach this achievement it just took a lot of years of hard work and dedication,” Sekinger said. “If you want to reach these heights and reach these feats and accolades that certain people want to acquire — if they want to feel rewarded or recognized for the hard work they’ve put in — it just comes down to putting in more hard work. No one’s looking. No one may see it from one season to the next, but you know that you’ve gotten better in certain areas you weren’t as strong at.”