Vandegrift girls basketball coach Jonathan Jones knew Bee Gonzales was going to be a special player the first time she cracked the starting lineup more than two seasons ago.
Once the starters were announced and the teams were ready to jump, Gonzales approached her coach and asked how she could communicate orders to the team. Many times, the coaches are the ones barking out instructions. This time, it was a sophomore.
Now, the shy senior has an increased and rejuvenated role on a team looking to make the playoffs for the second straight season.
“She’s so laser-focused all the time and it goes from there,” Jones said. “We have some other personalities on the team that will step up and say something, but everybody still looks to her. She’s our captain. When she does say something, everybody turns and looks right at her.”
Vandegrift lost 80 percent of its scoring from a season ago. Gonzales has an increased scoring role this year and while she isn’t always the highest on the scoresheet, more often than now, she’s near the top this season.
Gonzales is the only returning starter from last season. Through the first two games of her varsity career, she averaged eight points and seven assists. Her scoring is up to 12 points a game this season with her expanded scoring role.
“I’m trying to create more whether it's for me or my teammates,” she said. “My teammates look to me to show them what’s what. I’m a super shy person, so they kind of tease me about it. But it’s not too bad.”
As of Tuesday morning, the Lady Vipers are tied with Vista Ridge for second place in District 25-6A at 6-2. They have won two straight games, highlighted by a come from behind 56-52 win in double overtime against Hays last week.
Gonzales finished third on the team with 10 points in the win.
Jones said Gonzales is a very unselfish player and has always had a pass-first mentality. The only thing he did to get her to score more points was by encouraging her and telling her to take what the defense is giving her.
“She’s responded well,” Jones said. “It’s been a natural progression. She has surprised me with how much she’s stepped up with her leadership. When kids can do that, it takes the team to another level.”
Gonzales isn't the first of her family to play girls basketball at Vandegrift. He sister, Sam, also suited up for the Lady Vipers and Bee always just did what she did with a little coaching from her dad.
She said she was thinking about playing in college, but decided to focus on her future career and school. But she plans to stay in the game and around it for sure. But right now her focus is helping Vandegrift improve.
“We have a super young team, so we’re playing a lot faster,” Gonzales said. “We can focus on defense a lot more which is where we start our offense from. We want to get better for playoffs, secure a spot and get as far we can.”
Vandegrift has just three games remaining in the regular season. It hosts Lehman on Friday night, travels to Leander next Tuesday night and finishes off the year at home against Vista Ridge on Feb. 2.
Since Jones took over the Lady Vipers three seasons ago, he’s been building a solid program that makes the playoffs year after year.
He knows every team needs a good point guard. Vandegrift has got one.
“She’s very introverted, but the team has rallied and morphed into that,” Jones said. “The focus that she brings from that quiet leadership is really cool to see. She’s part of the building blocks of what we’re trying to do.”