HARLINGEN — The Harlingen Cardinals boys basketball team is off to a strong start this season.
Big Red has a tournament championship under their belt along with some quality wins. The Cards are currently 17-5 on the season and will begin District 32-6A play Dec. 29 at Weslaco High.
A large part of the Cardinals’ success has come from junior point guard Michael Arellano. The crafty southpaw is in his second full season on the varsity and has been the fuel to the Cards’ offense.
“Last year, I was selfish and didn’t really focus on the team,” Arellano said. “I realized this year that you can’t win without a team and this year our chemistry is there, and we all work together and put in the work to get better.”
Through 22 games this season, Arellano is averaging a team high 18.2 points per game and second on the team in offensive rebounds with 26. Arellano leads the team in steals with 58 and is second on the team in assists with 47.
Last season, he was tabbed the Valley Moring Star’s All-STAR Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore. From last season to now, Arellano has seen his defensive and passing game improve, and he has emerged as a team leader.
“It helps when you have such an amazing team and coaching staff,” Arellano said. “They put in just as much work as I do and we all work together. It’s fun to be a part of it. This year, I stepped up my game defensively. Last season, I wasn’t very good on the defensive end and basketball is a two-way sport.”
With the district season on the horizon, Harlingen is in prime position to make some noise in what will be a tough 32-6A with games against Weslaco, Brownsville Hanna, Harlingen South and Los Fresnos.
Coach Greg Yates feels optimistic about his team’s chances and is confident in Arellano to guide Harlingen into district play.
“He has worked on his mental side of the game and has become a lot tougher,” Yates said. “Over the summer he refined his skills and became a better player overall. He gets our offense moving and we do stress playing defense. We want our offense to come from our defense and he has bought into that. He has quick feet and a good shot.”