The Odessa High Bronchos are back in the boys basketball playoffs after a one-year absence, and this time they want to hang around for a while.
The Bronchos (23-8) take on El Paso Montwood (13-14) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Pecos High School in a Class 6A bi-district game. Odessa High earned its spot by finishing second in District 2-6A behind crosstown rival Permian.
“(The players have) put in a ton of work over the last several years since they’ve been in high school,” Bronchos coach Jance Morris said. “They’ve done the work and now they’re being rewarded with winning district games and getting the opportunity to play in the playoffs.”
Senior guard Isaac Hernandez, the Bronchos’ leading scorer, said the team knows what it will take to extend its season.
“We’re really excited that we’re in the playoffs,” he said. “We’ve got to come out hard and play defense. We can’t come out like we did in district, like struggling and not guarding.
“The main thing is defense. We’ve got to come out strong and get some easy buckets first. We’ve just got to come out to play.”
Senior post Memo Anaya said Odessa High must continue to do the things that worked throughout the regular season.
“Honestly, just playing hard and playing defense,” he said. “That’s all we’ve really been doing, playing together.”
But the playoffs bring a different level of pressure. The Bronchos know their season is now on the line with each game.
“Intensity has got to increase,” senior guard Miguel Fonseca said. “It’s going to be packed and it’s going to be a good game.
“We’ve been having good practices lately. We’re just ready to go into a game. Our mindsets are changing. We’re just focused in.”
Anaya said being able to maintain focus during the regular season will pay off against Montwood.
“We just take it one game at a time and play hard every time,” he said.
Odessa High has already faced pressure games in reaching the postseason. The Bronchos defeated playoff qualifier Wolfforth Frenship 53-46 on the road on Feb. 13 to secure the No. 2 seed out of 2-6A. There’s also the matter that the team’s six seniors were on hand for Odessa High’s last postseason appearance against North Crowley in 2016.
“It easier for the six of us that have already been to the playoffs,” Hernandez said. “We already know what it’s like. We’ve experienced the fans, the crowd, everything. Some of our juniors don’t know how it is, but they’ll get a taste of it and I’m pretty sure they’ll be fine.”