McCALLEN — The Texas Girls Coaches Association announced its 2019-20 girls basketball Academic All-State teams Wednesday afternoon, which included nine athletes representing four different schools from the Rio Grande Valley.
The athletes representing the Valley, who are all seniors, on the TGCA girls basketball Academic All-State teams are Alyssa Butters, Kameryn Casares, Mia DeLeon, Anahi Garcia, Alondra Gutierrez, Alexia Hernandez, Hannah Larsen, Kellsey Neumann and Laura Ramirez.
“It feels great to be recognized like this,” said Casares, a four-year multisport standout at Edinburg Vela. “Yes, sports matter, but after high school you can’t keep looking back like ‘Oh, I did this in high school and I did that,’ when you obviously need an education and need to work on that. That’s more important to me.
“I’m not going to live in high school my whole life, so I need something to fall back on.”
Edinburg Vela led all Valley schools with three selections, as DeLeon, a guard, and Larsen and Casares, both forwards, all earned the distinction.
Casares, DeLeon and Larsen combined to average 6.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 1.4 assists per game for the SaberCats basketball this past season, which clinched a playoff berth after finishing third in District 31-6A.
Larsen and DeLeon were also key players on the Vela volleyball squad, which won a district title and advanced to the area round of the playoffs this past season, while Casares and DeLeon were stars on the diamond for the SaberCats softball team, which ended the season as the eighth-ranked 6A team in the state by the TGCA.
“It’s exciting,” Casares said. “Even people who didn’t get to play as much time on the court were still part of the team, and they put their time in off the court too and got to be recognized on the Academic All-State basketball team. I thought that was pretty cool too.”
Edinburg High’s Garcia and Gutierrez — a point guard and power forward, respectively — added to the count for Edinburg CISD, the only school district in the Rio Grande Valley to boast TGCA Academic All-State honorees from multiple schools.
Garcia and Gutierrez were part of one of the most decorated senior classes in Edinburg High history on the hardwood, helping lead the Bobcats to a 129-30 record and four consecutive district championships.
They combined for 1.2 points and 2.6 rebounds per game on an Edinburg High squad that split a district title, advanced to the Class 6A regional quarterfinals and tally a 36-4 racord, the best in school history in the last decade.
McAllen High’s Butters and Neumann also earned spots on the TGCA 6A Academic All-State team.
Butters, a guard, and Neumann, a forward, combined for 3.4 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game this past season for the Bulldogs.
Sharyland Pioneer’s Hernandez and Ramirez were the only two Valley girls basketball players to earn spots on the TGCA’s Class 5A Academic All-State Team. Additionally, they were the only two sub-6A players from the RGV to earn the distinction.
Hernandez and Ramirez helped lead the Diamondbacks to a perfect 14-0 record in district play, a District 31-5 crown and a trip to the area round of the playoffs.
Ramirez, one of Pioneer’s key forwards, averaged 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, while Hernandez, one of the Valley’s top defensive guards, averaged 6.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 6.8 steals and 1.1 assists in district play for the Diamondbacks.
Hernandez won District 31-5A’s Defensive Player of the Year award this past season. She was also named to the 31-5A All-Defensive Team, The Monitor’s All-Area Defensive Team and the All-Valley Defensive Team by the Rio Grande Valley Basketball Coaches Association.