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St. Joseph ends 2013 with victory (w/gallery, video)

By Julie Garcia
Dec. 31, 2013 at 6:31 a.m.

El Campo point guard Adrian Alameda waits for the loose ball to drop after he forced a turnover in the fourth period, but the Flyers would win handily 68-42.

Cameron Zafereo's fresh legs were just what St. Joseph needed Tuesday afternoon.

In the fourth quarter against El Campo, Zafereo scored eight points, which led the Flyers (10-11) to a total of 24 points in that quarter in a 68-42 victory over the Ricebirds (8-13, 0-2).

Zafereo, who rotates in and out of the Flyer starting lineup, is one of the better shooters and defenders, said coach Abraham Garcia.

"He's a hard worker and does a lot for us," Garcia said. "Sometimes, he slides under the radar with Luke (Wenske), Cody (Janak) and Adam (Konarik), but he's every bit as capable of doing the things those guys do."

Zafereo missed his junior basketball season due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury he received as a football player last year.

Sitting out in football this fall made for a jittery first basketball game for the senior, he admitted.

"I let my knee heel and rehab and just came back for basketball," Zafereo said. "I came out and I just felt like myself again. I missed playing and missed my teammates. It felt good to be back out there."

Zafereo scored 10 points, while Wenske led the Flyers with 17 and five 3-pointers. Janak scored 13 points and Konarik had nine.

El Campo coach Matt Sandoval said that his team's lack of rebounds hurt them.

"We're really young, and we make youthful mistakes," Sandoval said.

The Ricebird's have five sophomores and five juniors.

El Campo's Adrian Alameda led the team in scoring with 15 points and three 3-pointers. Larry Haynes scored seven points and DeMarcus Wilson had six points.

"It's a work in progress, but you just have to get better at the fundamentals of the game: not turning the ball over, playing man-to-man defense, and rebounding," Sandoval said. "Today, rebounding just killed us."

With a long holiday break, games are the best way to get conditioned for the remainder of the season, Garcia said.

"Right now we're trying to get as many games as we can before district hits," Garcia said. "There's nothing like game conditioning - it's a lot more fun than having to come out here and run lines."

More games also give the smaller squad a chance to substitute in non-starters for game experience.

"We always try to give everybody as much playing time as we can," Garcia said. "The focus is to win ball games, but we want everybody out there, everybody has to contribute no matter what."

You never know who has "the hot hand," Garcia said.

"We had a lot of games this past weekend and wanted to make sure we had some fresh legs out there," he said. "It was an opportunity for them to get some experience for district, too."

In his fourth year coaching at St. Joseph, Garcia has been able to watch and grow along with the 10 seniors on his team.

"They all came in as freshmen when I came in, and we've kind of grown together," Garcia said. "Just them growing up and watching them grow into young men has been an honor."

St. Joseph will play Waelder Friday, followed by its final pre-district game against Shiner on Tuesday.

District begins for the Flyers on Jan. 10 against Austin Hyde Park.

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