The Monitor’s All-Area Girls Basketball Honors

Offensive Player of the Year: Ashley Gonzalez, Harvest Christian

Harvest Christian’s Ashley Gonzalez made it look natural when she had the basketball in her hands.

Gonzalez averaged 22 points per game this season along with 4.5 assists to help lead the Eagles to a TAPPS 1A state title.

OPOY Harvest Christian’s Ashley Gonzalez. (Andrew Cordero/Special to The Monitor)

Gonzalez is The Monitor’s 2023-24 Girls Basketball Offensive Player of the Year

The senior guard scored more than 3,000 points during her four years at Harvest Christian and will play college basketball next season at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie.

Gonzalez could do it all offensively and at times looked miles ahead skill-wise from some of her opponents as the Eagles played and beat some of the best teams in the Valley.

Co-Defensive Players of the Year: Emily Carranco and Madison Martinez, Edinburg High

Defense wins titles and helps create offense in basketball, and the Valley’s best team, Edinburg High, did just that as it was led by two of their best players Emily Carranco and Madison Martinez.

Co-DPOY Edinburg High’s Emily Carranco. (Andrew Cordero/Special to The Monitor)

Carranco was terrific at leading the zone and using her length to cut off passing lanes, and shifting down to contest shots and gather rebounds. Carranco grabbed five defensive rebounds, three steals and a block per game for the Bobcats this season.

“(Carranco) did a great job of being our tallest girl,” Edinburg High head coach JD Salinas said. “She did not have a whole lot of blocks, but she had good timing, especially when we needed that play.”

The Bobcats had defense practices on Wednesdays after Tuesday games that were challenging, Martinez said.

DPOY Edinburg High’s Madison Martinez Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Martinez was lockdown on the perimeter and swiped four steals a night to lead the team and also grabbed 3.5 defensive rebounds a game. Salinas praised Martinez’s IQ while playing defense.

“Personally, I prefer defense over offense,” Martinez said. “It felt like everything came natural so when I saw my stats at the end of the season updated, it felt good. I enjoyed playing defense.”

Martinez signed to play college hoops at Concordia. Carranco signed to play with Texas A&M University-San Antonio.

Both turned their defense into offense. Carranco averaged 23 points, and Martinez dropped 17 a game.

Utility Player of the Year: JaNai Coleman, Edinburg Vela

The Upper Valley was loaded with talented players that could do it all, and one of those all-around standouts was JaNai Coleman.

Coleman did it all for the SaberCats to earn the The Monitor’s Utility Player of the Year award.

The senior guard averaged a double-double to help the SaberCats to a co-District 31-5A title and a 5A area-round win.

Coleman averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds, 3.5 steals and two assists a game as she covered the entire court for Edinburg Vela. Coleman easily beat players on the dribble, had a terrific stepback and could go down low for easy buckets.

“I did as much as I could even through my injuries or body aches,” Coleman said. “I just pushed through because I love the sport of basketball and I wanted to get my up there again.”

Coleman showed off those abilities in the area game against Gregory-Portland in Falfurrias.

The all-around standout has decided to stay in Edinburg to play college basketball. Coleman is going to sign with UTRGV.

Newcomer of the Year: Ebonie Chatman, Sharyland Pioneer

Sharyland Pioneer’s Ebonie Chatman set District 31-5A on fire as a freshman, averaging 15 points and eight rebounds a game for the Diamondbacks to help them to a share of the 31-5A title after missing out on the playoffs the year prior.

Newcomer Sharyland Pioneer’s Ebonie Chatman Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Chatman is The Monitor’s Newcomer of the Year.

The Diamondbacks’ freshman led her team in scoring and also chipped in with three steals, two assists and a block per game.

Chatman and the Diamondbacks also took home a bi-district playoff victory, and in important games late in the season Chatman would receive special defensive coverage from opposing teams.

Chatman said she needs to work on some things still, pointing out offensive rebounding and her defense as some area she will be working on.

“I have been working and playing basketball my whole life,” Chatman said. “So, it finally beginning to show feels really good.”

The next three years look bright for Chatman at Pioneer.

Sub-5A MVP: Layla Perez, Donna IDEA 

Donna IDEA’s Layla Perez averaged nearly a triple-double her senior year to earn District 31-3A’s MVP award for the second straight season.

Perez is The Monitor’s Sub-5A MVP for the 2023-2024 season.

Small school MVP IDEA Academy’s Layla Perez. (Andrew Cordero/Special to The Monitor)

The Upper Valley is loaded with teams competing in Class 5A and 6A of UIL basketball. Class 3A teams — particularly from the IDEA school system — are still progressing, and Perez was a key player in that development.

“Growing up at IDEA, no one ever talked about athletics,” Perez said. “We’ve always been the underdogs, people don’t usually know who we are and any opportunity I’m given to be able to put us out there and get everyone to take notice of us I’ll do it.”

“This program has given me the to freedom to grow as a person, being able to show little girls in my school that you can do it too. It has just been a dream come true, when I was little I made a goal for myself to be the first person at IDEA Donna to hit 1,000 points and being able to do it and make history was so amazing,” Perez said.

Perez averaged 19 points, 11 steals and nearly nine rebounds a game. Perez was also awarded with all-region honors after helping Donna IDEA to a bi-district playoff victory this season

“She spent summers and offseason working on perfecting her craft and skills. She took my 8 underclassmen under her wing and showed them the ropes of Lady Titan basketball. She leaves a great legacy that has been noticed by our younger athletes being a 2 time 3A all region team, 2 time 31-3A District MVP, New Comer of the Year, and The Monitor Sub 5A MVP and of course being the First Lady Titan to score 1000 career points,” IDEA Donna head coach Andrew Sierra said.

Co-Coaches of the Year: John David Salinas, Edinburg High and Jaime Gonzalez, Harvest Christian

The Upper Valley was loaded with terrific coaching in 2023-24, especially in the Edinburg area, where three of the top teams resided.

Co-Coach of the year Harvest Christian’s Jaime Gonzalez. (Andrew Cordero/Special to The Monitor)

Edinburg High’s John David Salinas led the Bobcats to a 36-3 record, a district title and an area-round win, and Harvest Christian’s Jaime Gonzalez went 42-1 and won the TAPPS 1A state title.

Gonzalez praised his team for maintaining that vision and working hard every day at practice.

“As long as we were getting better that was the goal every day,” Gonzalez said. “When you have a vision in mind and you work at it every day, you try to enjoy it as much as you can by creating memories along the way – the end result when you get there is always a rewarding one. That is what we preach and had this year.”

Gonzalez said that was reinforced the last couple of seasons and as the Eagles successfully defended their state title.

The two Edinburg coaches helped develop some of the best talent in the Valley that helped power their programs to success during the 2023-24 season and likely into the future with both programs still rich with talent.

Coach of the year Ediburg High’s John David Salinas Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

The games Edinburg High lost were all in the single digits, with the highest being by eight points against San Antonio Harlan, and the only loss that Harvest Christian had was to Edinburg High by six points.

Salinas is always quick to praise his staff for their hard work and of course the team that was the best in the Valley.

“I knew we were going to be good, I didn’t know we were going to be 36-3,” Salinas said. “That is an incredible record and probably won the best record in the history of EHS.”