By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Coaches, players and managers of Quay County high school basketball teams competing in the 1A, 2A and 3A state tournaments received honors Thursday at the Tucumcari Elks Club.
The Tucumcari Rattlers, Lady Rattlers, Logan Longhorns, Lady Longhorns and San Jon Coyotes were recognized for competing in the 2016 state basketball tournaments.
“It is pretty impressive to have so many teams from one county make the state tournament,” said Ron Wilmont, Elk’s exalted ruler.
Wilmont said the entire community is proud of the achievements of each of these teams.
“It was the support of the community that lifted the teams up,” said Gary Hittson, Lady Rattlers head coach.
The community’s enthusiastic support urged the players to push harder and for the Lady Rattlers it resulted in the first ever out right district championship in school history, Hittson said.
“There are so many people to thank most of all my wife for sticking with me through out the season which at times was difficult because I don’t like to lose,” said John Span, Rattlers head coach.
Span said the teams not only brought respect to their towns schools, they brought pride to the entire county. He said there was a tremendous showing of support by all the teams and fans no matter which team was on the court.
“The teams did us all proud,” said Randy Robertson, Longhorns head coach.
Robertson said the teams played with character and heart and as a coach you can’t ask for much else.
As a testament to the team’s success this season, two seniors signed letters of intent to play basketball for colleges in Colorado.
On Tuesday, Rattlers senior John Paul Garcia signed to play basketball for the Division II, Adams State University Grizzlies, at Alamosa, Colorado.
“I am excited for the opportunity to play at the next level,” Garcia said.
Garcia said he didn’t know quite what to think when he was trying out for Adams State. He said that all changed once he was told there was a spot on team for him.
“This doesn’t happen very often so I am not going to be timid competing at the next level,” Garcia said. “I feel confident that I can compete with the athletes at that level and will work hard to continue to improve.”
Garcia was selected for the first team of the 2016 District 5 3A All District team, selected for the North/South All-Star team and selected for the first team of the New Mexico High School Coaches Association’s 2016 3A Boys Basketball All-State team.
Garcia was named as the NMPREPS.com 3A Player of the Year. According to the website, Garcia finished the 2016 season averaging 22.8 points per game, 6.3 rebounds and 5 assists along with 3.6 steals per game. He also scored 28.8 points per game during the postseason.
“I want to say thank you, to my coaches, teammates, family, friends and community for all of your support,” Garcia said.
Lady Longhorns senior Kippi Webb will also be moving on to the next level signing Wednesday to play Basketball for the Trojans of Trinidad State Junior College at Alamosa, Colorado.
“I can remember my first game of basketball, I was 4 years old and I gave the ball away to the other team,” Webb said. “My dad pulled me aside and said, ‘I know we’ve taught you to be a share bear, but we don’t share the basketball with the other team.’”
Webb said by fourth grade, she truly began to enjoy the sport, but she was not an aggressive player. She said that all changed when she was in the sixth grade and was the only girl on a boys team.
“I got my nose bloodied a couple of times, after that I was an aggressive player,” Webb said.
Webb said there are a lot of people who say ‘playing college ball is hard to do,’ but you cannot let that discourage you from pursuing that goal. She said be it playing college sports, becoming a doctor or engineer the only person who has the final say is you.
“You have to decide your own future, you have to make the choice to work as hard as you can to create your own path.”
To play basketball at the college level takes hard work from a very young age, said Ryan Daughtery, Lady Longhorns head coach.
“Kippi has always displayed heart, dedication and the drive to be better in the short time that I have known her,” Daughtery said, adding that in the one season he has coached Webb, she has shown time after time she has what it takes to succeed at the next level.
“I would say more about Kippi but I’m going to cry, which is something I have not done in 11 years,” Daughtery said.
Webb has the talent to walk onto the court and without additional training effectively defend the post, said Rich Holden, Trojans’ head coach.
Holden said with further training, Webb could learn to be a powerful scoring wing player. He said just by meeting Webb, he knew she was the caliber of player the Trojans were seeking.
“We are excited about adding Webb to our team and creating a culture of success,” Holden said.