Hays sophomore guard Nate Alvarado drew an incredibly tough assignment Friday night. Alvarado, one of the Rebels’ best and quickest defenders, was the point man in an effort to contain Lehman standout guard De’Andre Carson.
Even though four of his teammates backed him up, Alvarado was the first line of defense as Hays threw a box-and-one at its rival’s best player. It was such an arduous task for Alvarado that his head coach, Dean McMullen, named him captain before the game.
For 32 minutes, Alvarado slowed Carson. Then, in overtime, Alvarado broke free and led the Rebels to an important District 27-4A win.
Alvarado scored six of his team-high 14 points in the extra frame as Hays handed the Lobos a 63-59 loss on senior night. With the win, the Rebels remained in a fourth-place tie with Boerne-Champion.
“I told the guys to play our style of ball,” McMullen said. “We picked up the pressure on them pretty good. Nate did a great job on Carson all night and then he had the legs to knock down some big shots at the end — after trying to defend Carson all night.”
No matter what Hays — or Alvarado, for that matter — tried on Carson, it wasn’t going to completely slow him down. After all, Carson shredded the Rebels for 31 points in a 63-61 overtime win three weeks earlier and dropped 41 through the nets last Tuesday against Schertz-Clemens.
Through a majority of regulation, even though Hays held him in check, Carson got his. Carson scored 16 of his game-high 26 points after halftime and Lehman pushed its lead to as many as five late in the fourth quarter.
Nothing deterred the Rebels, as they turned to Alvarado and junior guard Jacob Rodriguez. Alvarado and Rodriguez each drilled 3-pointers in the fourth quarter — two of Hays’ three baskets in the frame— to tie it up and send the game to overtime.
“They had some kids step up and hit crucial shots at crucial times,” Lobo head coach Thomas Acker said. “Maybe they wanted it more than us. It wasn’t just a rivalry game for them.”
Alvarado came alive in the final four minutes, scoring the Rebels’ first four points. Then Alvarado iced the victory with a pair of free throws and put Hays closer to its second consecutive postseason berth.
“We had to win this game,” Alvarado said. “I wanted to lead this team to a win.”