MISSION — The Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks boys basketball team is nearing full strength, and that’s a problem for opponents who have to see them on the hardwood.
Previously unbeaten Los Fresnos found that out the hard way Tuesday as the Diamondbacks downed the Falcons 72-58 at Sharyland Pioneer High School.
“We knew that Los Fresnos is a very good team. We knew that they weren’t going to go away,” Sharyland Pioneer head coach Rene Gonzalez said. “They have a great coach and a great program, and we told our guys that they have to be ready, and the boys know who they are, so it was a great win for us.”
Pioneer opened up a 35-27 halftime lead before pulling away in the second half to earn the 14-point victory. Seniors Derek Luna and Lavar Lindo led the way for the Diamondbacks as Luna’s all-around effort allowed him to finish with a game-high 25 points, while Lindo added 18 points and was dominant on the boards with 20-plus rebounds.
Lindo is one of six Pioneer basketball players who also suited up for the football team, whose playoff run ended Dec. 1. Now, those players are working on getting back in their groove and it’s starting to show on the court.
“We got all the rust off,” Lindo said. “We worked as a unit. We got our communication back, we got our chemistry back. … We’re passing the ball, rebounding and boxing out and doing all the little things to work up to a high level, but there’s always need for improvement, so we’re just going to do that.”
“The main thing is getting their legs underneath them and getting healthy,” Gonzalez said. “When our football players got back over here, I just threw them to the wolves, going back to basketball mode, getting their conditioning during games.”
Another addition for the Diamondbacks is Luna, who starred during his first two years at McAllen Rowe before moving and transferring to Duncanville where he captured a Class 6A UIL state championship as a junior. After moving back to the Rio Grande Valley with his family for his senior season, Luna feels right at home with Sharyland Pioneer.
“It feels great. I came here to play basketball and I’m having fun,” Luna said about being back on the court. “Pioneer welcomed me with open arms and I’m just having fun. It’s my last year and I just want to end it with a bang.”
Luna has provided a bang for the Diamondbacks as the do-it-all 6-foot-2 guard’s game takes Pioneer to another level.
“I’m trying to be a great leader on this team and do whatever I have to do to win games. That’s all I care about right now,” Luna said.
Ethan Lee was a spark for the Diamondbacks against Los Fresnos as he was living in Falcons’ passing lanes, and Luke Padilla added 10 points to give Pioneer three scorers in double figures along with Luna and Lindo.
Elian Gonzalez led the way for the Falcons as he went off for 16 points in the first half and finished the game with a team-high 22 before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Luis Gonzalez worked his way into double figures by draining five 3-pointers, finishing with 18 points, while Ricky Altamirano added 10 points.
Next up for Sharyland Pioneer and Los Fresnos is the City of Palms Tournament in McAllen, which runs from Thursday through Saturday.