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GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Lady Bronchos carries high expectations into season - Odessa American: Girls

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GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Lady Bronchos carries high expectations into season

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Posted: Saturday, November 9, 2019 12:26 am

The Odessa High girls basketball team made some notable strides last season. That included winning 19 games, going to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years and winning a playoff game for the first time in two decades.

As the dawn of a new season arrives, the Lady Bronchos are eager to get back on the court and build on that success.

“I think a lot of it comes from heart and dedication,” senior guard Roxana Jimenez said. “We all have to have the heart to accomplish everything we want as a team.”

“It feels really good to be back on the court,” sophomore guard Nesha Stephens said. “If we keep working, I think we can get to where we need to be to get back to the playoffs.”

Stephens and Jimenez are two of the six returners for the Lady Bronchos and will both play important roles under new head coach Marcus Chapa, who comes to Odessa High after his last stop at Iraan.

He takes over for Olivia Pyburn, who was hired as the girls head coach at Class 5A Burleson in the Dallas-Fort Worth area after last season.

“Our goals for the year are small goals and we concentrate on those one game at a time,” Chapa said. “Now I believe that we do have enough talent, we’ve just got to be able to filter that in the positive direction as far as each kid knowing their role.”

Two of the biggest changes will be playing at a faster pace as well as going to more man-to-man on defense. The Lady Bronchos will still incorporate some of the 2-3 zone they had been known for in recent years, but Chapa believes that will help play to the strengths of his team.

“With the new season, it’s obviously a new coach and a new team,” Chapa said. The biggest key from building off of last year is to be diverse with some man-to-man principles and zone defense.”

Stephens will be running the offense at point guard for Odessa High, but one of the biggest changes in the offense comes with Jimenez playing as a shooting guard as opposed to being more of a post player. Jimenez will also be taking on a greater leadership presence and is looking forward to that challenge.

“I like pushing my teammates, because I know we can do better,” Jimenez said. “If we get down about ourselves, I’m always there to pick them up. It’s great leading these girls and showing them what’s to come.”

Senior guard Kabrina Sanchez will provide depth in the backcourt and is also ready to contribute and build off of last year’s success.

“It just goes to show that it’s possible as a team to accomplish such a big goal,” Sanchez said. “Now, we can try and start a new streak.”

In the frontcourt, Alexis Luna and Amber Escontrias will have the experience to lead the Lady Bronchos and will be joined by freshman Deoshanay Henderson. Kazyiah Hicks will also add some experience as well. It’s a good mix of youth and experience and Odessa High is excited about the potential of what could be to come.

“We just have to learn and work together and communicate, especially with Coach Chapa,” Jimenez said. “That’s going to be the biggest key for us.”

“I think this team can do really well and we can go back and further from what happened last year,” Sanchez said. “They’re big shoes to fill, but in the end it’s going to all be worth it no matter where we end up.”

Odessa High starts the 2019-2020 season at 11 a.m. Saturday at Greenwood. There will be a transition period and the Lady Bronchos will get tested in tournaments at Allen and Denver City but Chapa hopes to use the early season to evaluate where his team is at and build off it from there.

“We want to see each and every individual truly find their role,” Chapa said. “We’ve got a pretty good bench, we’re senior heavy and like I said, we’re taking it one game at a time and just focusing on each day.”

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