Our Lady of the Hills basketball coach Chris Ramirez delivered the news to James Ibarra during pregame warmups.
Senior post Cole Lutz was too sick to play against Fredericksburg Heritage on Thursday. That meant that Ibarra, normally the sixth man off the bench for the Hawks, was going to start in his absence.
“Cole is a main post underneath the basket who gets a lot of rebounds,” Ibarra said. “We all kind of had to step and work a little harder underneath the basket.”
Ibarra did just that, finishing with 14 points to lift the Hawks to a 64-41 win over their rival Heritage.
“He loves the opportunity to show what he can do,” Ramirez said of his sophomore post. “He is such an athletic and versatile kid. … We are all just thrilled and really happy for James.
“Truthfully, he’s one of those guys who I have been trying to find ways to get more playing time for him because he does so many things when he is on the floor,” Ramirez continued. “It’s a luxury to have someone like him come off the bench and then fill in as a starter tonight.”
That’s what makes the Hawks so dangerous: They are flush with versatile players who can contribute in a variety of ways. Ibarra wasn’t the only player to make significant contributions on Thursday night. Seniors Travis Reeh and Hunter Taylor scored 16 points. Joaquin Vazquez added 13.
The Hawks (10-4) trailed, 9-7 after the first. But they outscored Heritage by 15 in the second quarter to seize a 28-15 advantage at halftime. They cruised from there for their third straight win.
“It feels really good because we now have a three-game winning streak going into the OLH Tournament,” Ibarra said. “That’s really exciting.”season — it was a lot of fun.”