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EDINBURG — Harvest Christian’s Ashley Gonzalez broke out as a freshman last season, averaging 26.8 points per game during her debut campaign. When she stepped on the court this season, she demanded the attention of opposing defenses, with most teams throwing double teams at the sophomore guard.

Despite the increased defensive efforts by opponents, Gonzalez remained a walking bucket this year, averaging a Valley-leading 21.4 points per game in 38 appearances.

After leading the Eagles to a 31-7 record and an appearance at the TAPPS Class 2A state tournament, Gonzalez is The Monitor’s 2022 All-Area Girls Basketball Offensive Player of the Year.

“It feels really good to get this honor, but I have to stay humble,” Gonzalez said. “I understand I have two more years and there are many other girls who didn’t get selected that are really good also. I just have to stay humble and hungry.”

While Gonzalez played for Harvest Christian, she made her presence felt against every opponent this season, regardless of their classification.

She dropped 33, 27 and 25 points against 2022 UIL playoff teams Donna High (Class 5A), McAllen High (Class 5A) and Edinburg Vela (Class 6A), respectively. Gonzalez added another 20 games with 20-plus points against opponents ranging from UIL Class 1A-6A, including postseason qualifiers Rio Hondo, Los Fresnos, San Isidro, Port Isabel and Kountze.

“Going into a game, I don’t care who we are playing,” Gonzalez said. “I just have a mindset that I belong on the court no matter who it’s against. No matter what, I’m going to shoot again. If it’s a miss, I’ll still shoot again. That’s what I like to do. I’ll shoot it whenever.”

Gonzalez continued her offensive onslaught through the playoffs, including a 33-point outburst during the Eagles’ regional quarterfinal victory over Hallettsville Sacred Heart, accounting for more than half of her team’s points during the 65-60 victory.

Edinburg Harvest Christian’s Ashley Gonzalez (24) gets past Allen Academy’s Bailey Fannin (1) during a TAPPS regional game Feb. 26 at Kenedy High in Kenedy. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Gonzalez’s offense helped guide the team to the state tournament appearance, falling to Shiner St. Paul in the state semifinals 56-42.

Her offensive prowess helped her eclipse the 1,000-career point mark during just her second season, sitting at 1,420. She also garnered TAPPS 2A Final Four All-Tournament honors, while being selected to the TAPPS 2A All-State First Team.

“I feel like I matured my mindset more,” Gonzalez said. “I understand not everything has to go a certain way. Now I try to pass more and try to find more openings for the other girls. I just feel like I matured in several ways. But I think I put my name out there more this year. Sometimes when they did slow me down with double teams, it hurt. But I want to learn how to overcome those double teams and learn how to play even better for next year.”

Gonzalez already has shifted her focus to her junior season, gearing up for another run at the state title and more.

“I hope to become a better player mentally, physically and everything. I just want to become the player God wants me to be.

“We hope to win state next year. Not just by a little, either. We’re out to prove that we could have won this last year. This time we want to say we’re there again for a second year in a row. Then my senior year, it’s the same thing. We want to win state again then and make a name for our school.”

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