FIGHT TO THE END: Warriors prep for playoffs
Feb. 6, 2014 at 10:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 5, 2014 at 8:06 p.m.
After coming in last place in District 30-4A two years in a row, Victoria West's seniors felt something stronger than pride when they were awarded the district championship trophy last week after their 57-38 victory over Tuloso-Midway.
"Especially being at the bottom last year, it meant the world that we got district champs this year," said Allyson Dlouhy.
"We've worked so hard to try and get it; it's something we've been waiting for," said Lauren Rodriguez.
"All the hard work paid off, and we are a stronger team," chimed in Silvey Estrada.
The three West senior players are the first set to graduate from the program after four solid years of playing.
After a disappointing sophomore and junior season, the Warriors (26-4, 12-0) were ready to win.
"We couldn't win a district game. We fought, but it didn't go our way," Rodriguez said. "What helped us this year was last year when we lost Treka (Franklin) - it was kind of a learning experience, and we've just been growing since then as a team."
Franklin's senior season ended last year after an anterior cruciate ligament tear.
Coach Sandra Jimenez knew with the fire left over from last year's final district game (the Warriors defeated Gregory-Portland 38-37), they would be in an ideal situation this season.
"I really had no doubt that we were going to make the playoffs," Jimenez said. "I don't know if I ever would have told you in the beginning that we're going to be district champs, but the longer they played together, the more they gelled, the more I could see these kids really care for one another, and they're going to play to the end."
For Rodriguez, Dlouhy and Estrada, this was the last chance to make a mark.
"We wanted to win so bad, we told ourselves this year that we're going to work as hard as we had to to get where we needed to go," Rodriguez said.
Jimenez knew that her original freshmen class wouldn't be satisfied with losing.
The girls agree that no one expected anything from the Warriors this year.
No matter where they go, whether it be tournaments or out to eat as a team, Rodriguez said they are questioned about the sport they play or how well they've played.
"Anywhere we go, we're underestimated," Rodriguez said. "When we went to our last district game at Gregory-Portland, one of the parents from Gregory-Portland asked what our record was, and I said '11-0,' and she was like was like, 'Really?'"
Going into Tuesday's bi-district playoff game against San Antonio Harlandale, the Warriors are treating it like the biggest game of the year.
Junior Mercedes Ellison, a top scorer and rebounder, suffered a broken nose in a game against Calhoun, but Jimenez said she will be back Tuesday.
Through intense one-on-one drills and scrimmage scenarios with West's freshman and junior varsity boys squads, the girls are preparing for tougher and faster opponents.
But the Warriors are already pretty tough.
"(Jimenez) lets us be tough, which helped against Gregory-Portland," Dlouhy said. "We've been told we never give up. No matter what the score is - we're not ready to lose."
Jimenez said "Little One" (her nickname for Estrada) created the Warrior motto: "We Fight to the End."
"They have fought to the end every single time," Jimenez said. "You can see even when it's down to the wire - 7 seconds, 2 seconds left. Whatever it is, you can see they are focused, and they want it."