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When Gotham City is in trouble, they shine the Bat Signal. When the Guymon Tigers are in need, they simply look to the bench and call on their sixth man.
Junior guard Alfredo Garcia has been a difference-maker for the Tigers this season, not only with his own play, but with the way he sparks his teammates on the floor.
"He gets a fire underneath us," senior forward Jace Melton said. "When he comes in, we start scoring more and it's a little bit of a faster pace."
There are few roles as difficult as that of the sixth-man. When things are going poorly, he has to be able to rally the team. When things are going well, he has to be able to give someone a breather without letting the team miss a beat.
But Garcia seems to have found the trick to it.
"I just try to go in and play hard on defense," Garcia said. "I know that if I do that, my offense will come later as the game progresses and I start to see what they are doing."
After playing sparingly as a sophomore, Garcia dedicated himself to improving in the offseason. By the time preseason practice began, his teammates had noticed the difference.
Senior forward Trey Fankhouser said that Garcia surprised him more than any other player in the preseason, and as the season began, Garcia continued to surprise and impress.
"He's just got a lot of confidence," Guymon coach Tyler Chapman said. "I think what his biggest asset to us is the energy he brings, and he knows his role.
"He's the kid diving on the floor and he has a great attitude whether he starts the game in (junior varsity) or comes off the bench in varsity."
Though Garcia's energy and defensive prowess can swing the emotions of the Tigers for the better, his scoring capabilities are impossible to overlook. Those too were a result of his hard work in the summer.
"I just wanted to play. I didn't want to be barely playing like l was last year," Garcia said. "(I) would come down here and just hustle and shoot a ton of shots every day."
The hard work is paying off.
A year after appearing in only 10 of Guymon's 24 games and scoring a total of 19 points, Garcia has appeared in every game and is averaging 8.0 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
"For the last few years, we have noticed that he's gotten better and better," Melton said. "But the jump between that sophomore year and that junior year was a big one and it's helped him out a lot."
Garcia first began playing basketball about seven years ago when his older sister, Belen, was in middle school. She played on the basketball team and needed a practicing partner, which she found in Alfredo.
"She made me go outside and play one-on-one with her, so she could practice," Garcia said.
It didn't take long for Garcia to catch the basketball bug himself, and soon enough he too was on the team.
By his freshman year, Garcia was spending time on the junior varsity squad but didn't get to see any varsity action. The following year, he showed a hint of his potential as he hit 36.8 percent of his field goal attempts (7-of-19) and 100 percent of his free throws (6-of-6) in 10 varsity games.
"He's got a great work ethic and he's come a long way," Chapman said. "He's gotten better and better each year."
Now, Alfredo is fourth on the team in scoring (8.0), third in steals (2.0) and second in 3-point accuracy (30 percent). They are the kind of numbers that would generally be associated with a starter, but Garcia isn't jealous that his name isn't called during the pregame. He understands how important his role is to the team.
"Coach Chapman tells us, 'Know your role and just do what the team needs you to do,' and that's what I try to do," Garcia said. "I'm just coming off the bench and doing my thing."View more articles in: