Lalo Aguilar goes after the ball in game one of the playoffs against Leading Edge Academy. The Lobos went on to win the game 66-58. Photo by Anna Coleman

The Patagonia High School boys basketball team returned to postseason tournament play this March, advancing to the semifinal round of the Arizona 1A conference. Only the top 16 teams in the division are eligible to play in the postseason. 

The Lobos, who were ranked #14, bested #3 ranked Leading Edge Academy in the first game, played in Gilbert on March 6, with a final score of 66–58. Leading Edge led by 10 points at halftime, but the Lobos fought back to advance to the quarterfinals.

“We were down pretty big in the first half,” Lobos Coach Nate Porter said, “but we dominated inside in the second half.”

The team then played #6 ranked El Capitan in Page, AZ on March 9, a ten-hour bus ride from Patagonia.

“The southernmost 1A team in the state played the northernmost team,” Porter noted. El Capitan led by one point at the end of three quarters, but the Lobos pulled ahead at the end to win 68-64.

That win advanced the Lobos to the semifinals against #2 ranked Mohave Accelerated on March 13, a team which had only lost one game in its regular season. Although Patagonia lost this game, 78-71, the opposing athletic director commented that the Lobos were the toughest team they had played all year, according to Porter.

“The game was close throughout,” he said. “All these schools are way bigger than we are. It makes this accomplishment even greater.

“Lobos co-captains Lalo Aguilar and Julian Vasquez were great leaders throughout the year. You don’t accomplish the season we did without great leadership.” 

Vasquez felt that “the team played as a family. The team as a whole was real close and the team was very good at listening.” He credited Porter’s coaching for their success.

“Coach was really skilled,” he said. “He could see the weakness in other teams and that helped a lot. He’d tell us what we had to do in order to beat them.” 

Aguilar credited the improvement of some of the players on the team over the season.

“They started out not very skilled and at the end of the season were great and were vital to our team,” he said. 

Lobos players have been singled out for regional honors. Lalo Aguilar and Santiny Aguilar have been named to the All-Region 1st Team, and Kurt Whitcoe received Honorable Mention regionally. As the PRT goes to press, the statewide honors had not been released. 

All told, the team spent more than 30 hours on buses traveling to postseason play. On their return home from the semifinals, the boys were escorted into town with a parade, flashing lights and cheers.

“The parade showed us how much support we have from our families and community,” Vasquez said.