As is par for the course for many coaches this time of year, Hays Rebel head boys basketball coach Matt Sandoval isn’t shy about experimenting with different lineups on the court.
With a relatively seasoned roster for 2019, Sandoval’s primary objective is finding out “the right group of guys” that can complement each other.
Hays took one big step forward toward that goal Nov. 22 when it outlasted the Dripping Springs Tigers in a 59-48 road win at Tiger Gym.
But Sandoval also knows there’s much more work to be done. With district play looming on the not-so-distant horizon, time is of the essence for Hays to figure it out.
“We found a way to win. I’m pleased with the intensity and effort of the kids and they found a way to win,” Sandoval said. “That’s the most important thing. There were bright spots, but we still have a long way to go.”
A key element is the group of nine seniors who bring a vast amount of experience to the program. Leading the way is Carlos Rocha, Caden Doyle and Luke Watson, who all started for the Rebels last season. Backing up that group is senior Zach Harris, a former Lehman High basketball player who was rezoned to Hays this past summer, as well as junior Will Agnew, who also saw time on the court last season.
Behind them are several new faces that moved up from junior varsity a year ago. That includes Jackson Deutsch, who played a key role in Hays’ win over Dripping Springs with key rebounds in the second half, Sandoval said. An equally important cog is Rebel junior Connor Cox whose three pointers in key situations aided Hays in gathering separation from the Tigers.
At the same time, Sandoval said each game is going to be different and the players who step up and produce could be different, too. It’s a mantra Sandoval has so far preached to his players.
“I told them ahead of time, they could get 20 minutes a night or five minutes a night,” Sandoval said. “It’s one of those things. We have to go figure it out. At the end of the day, we’re trying to win basketball games.”
Ultimately, a “one game at a time” approach is how Sandoval and the Rebels plan to view play in 25-6A where the competition is fierce each night.
“We’re taking it one game at a time and we’re going to respect our opponents,” Sandoval said. “We have a chance to improve tremendously.”
Hays hosts Regents Nov. 30 at Bales Gym. The Rebels open district play Dec. 13 at home against Akins.