The Rio Grande Valley’s high school boys basketball season tipped off over the weekend, but most teams made their season debut Tuesday night. Here is the RGVSports.com Boys Basketball Top 10 Poll. along with teams and players to watch.
RGVSports.com Boys Basketball Rankings
No. 1 Edinburg Vela: The SaberCats were a young group last season and still finished as District 31-5A champions. With a number of returners that have valuable experience under their belt, this year’s Vela squad is poised to challenge for another district title and push for a potential playoff run with multiple playmakers on the roster like EJ Avelar (11.9 points per game), Axel Garza (15.3 ppg, 8.5 rebounds per game) and JP Olivarez (9 ppg, 4.3 assists per game) leading the way. The SaberCats attack opponents in waves with a number of scoring threats.
No. 2 McAllen Memorial: The Mustangs finished one game shy of winning a share of the District 31-5A title, but with a loaded group back in the fold along with a couple key additions, Memorial is firmly in the conversation of the top team in the Valley. The Mustangs have guard play to leave teams in the dust, size to overpower opponents and sharpshooting to put up points in bunches. Mando Treviño and Caden Keller provide reliable options outside and inside, and McHi transfer Danny Canul gives Memorial another weapon.
No. 3 Harlingen South: The District 32-5A champion Hawks start the season ranked No. 3 in the Valley and are poised to defend their crown. Senior guard/forward Steven Ortegon is one of the area’s top offensive players and has proven he can handle whatever opposing defenses throw his way. With Ortegon leading the charge, South is set up for another strong season.
No. 4 Weslaco East: The turnaround at Weslaco East continues as this year’s Wildcats roster features two of the Valley’s top players in senior Jediah Rivens and junior Zion Rodriguez. The pair forms one of the area’s top duos with highlight plays, good shooting from long range and non-stop defense. The Wildcats are in position to contend for the District 32-5A title.
No. 5 Los Fresnos: The Falcons have all the tools to add another District 32-6A championship trophy to their collection with a good group of returning players. JJ Salazar (18.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4 apg) is one of the top hoopers in South Texas, and his versatility will be key in Los Fresnos’ success. Fellow Falcons Jude Barreda (7.1 ppg), Dylan Cervantes, Gio Galvan (11.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.5 steals per game), Andrew Munoz (6.9 ppg) and Eric Salazar should take another step forward to make Los Fresnos one of the top squads in the RGV.
No. 6 Edinburg North: The Cougars finished as 31-6A tri-champions last season, but they begin the 2023-24 campaign as the favorites in district. Upperclassmen Joseph Cruz (8.2 ppg, 2.1 spg) and Josiah Cruz will lead North after emerging as reliable options in the backcourt a season ago, while freshman Raul Palacios steps into a key role right away for the Coogs.
No. 7 Weslaco High: The Panthers finished fourth in District 32-6A a season ago, but with a combination of seniors and a good group of up-and-coming players, Weslaco is on track to once again contend for a district title. The Panthers will rely the growth of all-district selections Pete Cantu, Noah Casarez and Jake Ramirez to lead the charge.
No. 8 La Joya Palmview: The Lobos challenged for the District 30-5A crown but ultimately fell short against opposition from Laredo. This year, junior guard Joe Gonzalez (16.5 ppg) and senior guard Adrian Ibarra (6.2 ppg, 3.4 apg) will provide leadership from their guard spots, while up-and-comers like Damian Anaya and Antonio Suarez step into bigger roles. Palmview can push for a district title in 23-24 but will have to clear the Laredo hurdle.
No. 9 McAllen High: McHi was another young team last season that improved leaps and bounds as the year went on. The Bulldogs have consistent guard play in Dylan Benavidez (7.2 ppg), Jackson Ramirez (7.9 ppg) and Mario Villegas (10.2 ppg, 3.5 apg), while sophomore D’Aundre Canada (5.4 ppg) looks to build off an impressive freshman season.
No. 10 Port Isabel: The Tarpons only dropped one district game en route to winning the District 32-4A championship last season. Port Isabel returns one of the top trios across South Texas in twins Christian, Cleveland and their older brother Jeffrey Smith. Along with Shaun Moore and Aiden Sanchez, the Tarpons have the makings of a team destined to repeat as district champs.
Players to Watch
Axel Garza, Edinburg Vela: The 6-foot-4 senior point forward possesses the height to dominate in the interior and ball skills to beat defenders on the perimeter. The District 31-5A Co-MVP and TABC All-Region selection led the SaberCats in points, rebounds and blocks last season, and is set to give defenses headaches once again with his ability to shoot the 3 and finish at the basket.
Joe Gonzalez, La Joya Palmview: The junior point guard has become one of the Valley’s top offensive weapons after averaging 16.5 points, 2.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game last season. He knocked down 67 3-pointers a season ago and has picked up right where he left off to lead the Lobos.
Steven Ortegon, Harlingen South: The Hawks’ senior playmaker and reigning District 32-5A MVP and TABC All-Region honoree returns to lead Harlingen South in a quest to defend their district title. Ortegon can score in a variety of ways and uses his athleticism, ball-handling, positioning and a quick first step to beat multiple defensive looks.
Jediah Rivens, Weslaco East: The Wildcats’ senior is a lethal scoring threat and shutdown defender, giving Weslaco East arguably the top two-way player in the RGV. Rivens can shoot from deep and slash and get to the rim while spending 32 minutes guarding the opposing team’s best scorer.
JJ Salazar, Los Fresnos: The Falcons’ senior forward returns as one of the top players in South Texas after averaging 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.3 blocks as a junior. Salazar, a four-year letterman who was a TABC All-Region honoree last season, is Los Fresnos’ go-to guy who can fill up the stat sheet both offensively and defensively.
Mando Treviño, McAllen Memorial: The Mustangs’ senior guard earned District 31-5A Co-MVP honors and was a TABC All-Region selection as a junior. Treviño plays at his own pace and can get buckets from anywhere on the court. His consistency and leadership from either the 1 or 2 gives Memorial one of the top guards in South Texas.