Coyotes have eyes on the prize in 3-1A

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

A new season is giving the Dora Boys’ basketball team new hope to challenge for the top spot in District 3-1A.

The Dora Coyotes host the San Jon Coyotes on Friday with the junior varsity team tipping off the action at 4 p.m.

The Coyotes lost three seniors from last year’s basketball team, a team which finished with a 7-20 record. Dora lost players such as Travis Belcher and Brent Hays who combined to score 18 points in the season-ending loss to the Floyd Broncos in overtime.

The way the season ended for the Coyotes was something that really bothered J.R. Gonzales. Gonzales, who is a senior point guard for the Coyotes, was a main contributor for Dora last season and scored nine points in the season-ending loss to Floyd.

“I’ve been waiting for this game since the last game of the season,” Gonzales said. “It’s going to be really nice to have our first game at home. We’re going to be really pumped up playing in front of our crowd.”

Coach Ty Thatcher said the team will start out with 14 varsity players. He said the boys played 5A schools and other tough competition during the summer at camps. Thatcher said assistant coach Caleb King has opened the gym in the off-season and the boys have showed up in full-force to improve their play.

“It’s definitely going to be a much improved team from last year,” Thatcher said. “A lot of the kids have a lot of talent. I think the first game is always a tone-setter. There’s going to be a tough stretch when we have eight or nine games on the road.”

The Coyotes next home game will not be until Dec. 16 against Farwell.

Thatcher said Gonzales will provide Dora with an outside threat and can force defenders to guard him instead of sinking down on Dora’s offensive threat inside, Tyler Wilhoit. Thatcher said last season the Coyotes had problems keeping teams honest defensively against Wilhoit.

“I was disappointed with last year,” Wilhoit said. “This year we brought in some new defenses. We’re looking to go all the way this year. Some of the younger players are stepping it up.”

Thatcher said the team will run different types of offensive and will play a combination of up-tempo style and a slow-down half-court set. He said the inside game and outside game should be stronger with solid perimeter shooters.

Payton Terry, a senior guard and Casey O’Connor, a junior guard, are returning starters on this season’s squad. Thatcher said Austin Prewett, a junior, and Clay Smith, a sophomore are two other players with varsity experience who will be trying to help post a winning season.