Alamo Navajo coach Lemuel Guerro wants to keep the surge his Cougars basketball team started last season going with a 24-5 record and a berth in the Class A state basketball tournament.

It was a season of firsts for the Cougars, with Alamo Navajo winning its first-ever district title, a first-ever berth in the state tournament game, and a win in the postseason. The Cougars went 8-0 in District 3-1A, and their 24-5 overall record in 2022 is also a school record.

The Cougars have learned how to win under Guerro, and now they need to prove they can rebuild with only one starter, senior Jacob Apache, returning to the lineup. Rebuilding will take a lot of work because a lack of youth basketball hurts Alamo Navajo’s program. “

Right now, fundamentals are our biggest problem. Our coaching staff is working on that, and we are looking to get on the same page regarding fundamentals,” Guerro said. “We’ve got to be able to dribble to be competent in the game.”

Getting more involved in summer league basketball has been one step in the right direction.

“I work in the summer. I take them to camp. Every kid has the same opportunity. We’re also like, hey, come in; there’s an open gym at this time,” Guerro said.

The Cougar’s greatest asset under Guerro is a commitment to each other, and their coach is proud of the work ethic he is seeing out of this season’s squad.

“They are always asking for me to push them. When we run drills, they look to get faster and better at what they do and challenge each other, too.” Guerro said. “The guys wanting to be pushed daily is something special for me as a coach.”

The Cougars are also being pushed by their opponents this season, and Alamo’s 5-3 record includes losses to the state’s top teams, Fort Sumner/House and Magdalena. It’s the kind of action the Cougars need because it lets them know what it will take to make the next step.

A banner photo of last year’s record-setting Cougars hangs on one end of the gym, serving as additional motivation for the 2023-24 team.

“These younger guys want to move up and to play at warp speed,” Guerro said. “They want to win a district title, and they want to do more. They want to win at state and go farther than our 2022 team.”

Guerro’s four returning varsity players are filling in the leadership roles.

“The four players I have returning, Jacob Apache, Scotty Guerro, Jay Apachito, and Zephaniah Guerro, are team leaders, and they know what I expect, and they are demanding and encouraging the younger players,” Guerro said.

The 2023 Alamo Navajo Cougars roster includes Cobre Mexicano, Emmett Duffy, Jacob Apache, Jurrale Tsosie, Methias Ruben, Scotty Guerro, Wyatt Hunter, Jay Apachito, Zephaniah Guerro, Johnshay Padilla, Mclane Guerro and Andy Pino.