By Mike Moguin
GTR Sports Writer
Tradition never graduates.
Union boys basketball coach Rudy Garcia stresses that statement to his athletes every year as they gear up for another campaign on the hardwood. No matter who leaves by virtue of completing high school, the guys expect to win.
“We just feel like we get some new guys, plug ’em in, keep the tradition that we built here and go out and compete,” Garcia said.
“As for expectations, it’s the same,” Garcia said. “We try to go win every tournament we play in and win 20 games, get to the playoffs and get to the state tournament and once you get there, you never know what can happen.”
Under Garcia’s tenure, Union has won three state championships and played for several others. Because they fell short of making a trip to the state tournament, the veteran coach tries to forget about last season.
“I try to forget those years we don’t make it to state,” he said with a chuckle.
Union was eliminated in the area tournament by Putnam City North last year.
The 2019-20 campaign will mark a milestone season for Garcia. He begins is 25th season as the head coach of the Redskin boys.
“I never thought I would reach 25 years because when I first started, I thought if I could make five years, I might have done a little bit. But here I am, 25 years later. It’s neat to be able to do it all at one school. Not many coaches stay around at one school that long,” Garcia said.
Four starters – seniors Seth Chargois, Micah Lovett, Neo Boykins and R.J. Forney – return to the Union lineup.
“Seth has been playing for a couple of years. He is a long, athletic kid who led us in scoring last year. He has the ability to stretch the floor and also get to the rim, so we’re expecting some big things out of him,” Garcia said.
“Micah is the point guard and will be in his second year as a starter. He brings a lot of experience there and does a good job attacking down the floor and defending. We’re looking for him to be more of a floor leader out there and try to make sure we get everything in order,” Garcia adds.
“Neo is our inside-out guy. He can bang around inside, step up and shoot the 3.
“R.J. is probably one of the most improved guys on the roster,” Garcia said. “He works hard and can step out and has been shooting the ball really well in practice. Hopefully, it’s going to translate into some really good things in the game.”
Garcia said senior Mason Mecke is in the lead to take over the open spot.
“He has been slotted in there right now,” he said. “He’s another kid that can really shoot the ball for us and has really made some big strides for us last year and thinks we can really stress the floor shooting the 3. He’ll be a guy battling for that spot.
“A.J. Reed, a junior, has a lot of ability and it starting to transform into a nice player for us,” Garcia said. “Jediah Jones is another kid, another junior that is athletic, long, that we think we can plug in there. Da’Yon Aromaye is another junior who is probably one of the best athletes in the school. He runs track and is extremely fast. Those are four of our main guys who have a chance to get in that mix.
“We also have Jaeland Jordan, a senior, an undersized kid who does a little bit of everything for us. Mish Newsome is another guy who is very athletic that we can move around and do some stuff with.”
Garcia sees Jenks, Broken Arrow, Owasso, Sand Springs, Sapulpa as among the toughest foes on the schedule.
“There are not many days off in the (Frontier) conference,” Garcia said. “You better be ready to play. There’s a lot of good teams over here.” On the west side, he sees Edmond Memorial, PC (Putnam City) West, PC North and Choctaw as the most challenging.”
Union opens the season at home Nov. 26 against Bixby.