LAFAYETTE — Northside girls basketball coach Gayle Montalvo loves basketball.
She never misses an opportunity to tell someone so, and after her Vikings have begun the season 16-1, she’s getting ample opportunity.
“I’ve been at this basketball thing 52 years,” Montalvo said. “I love basketball a lot. I like to play the game. This is my fourth year with this group, and we are playing at a high level right now.”
The road to this season wasn’t an easy one, Montalvo said. The 16-1 start hasn’t been easy either after a grueling tournament schedule that had them play 16 games in four weeks. Montalvo said that grueling schedule has been the key to the fast start.
“I took them everywhere,” she said. “I wanted them to experience north Louisiana. I wanted them to play locally. I wanted them to experience a tournament in the country with those quick teams. In those games, we play basketball. It’s good to be finished with this hard road.”
The Vikings are coming off a 63-44 win over St. Martinville on Monday. It’s been great post play that has aided many of the Northside victories, and Montalvo said she is learning how to get the most out of her team.
“We’ve been playing a lot of games, and every time we get on the floor, I learn something that I need to fix,” she said. “I see something that I need to do. Every game gets us closer to our goal.
“We love to run, and the height factor is in our favor. If they continue to listen and execute on offense while keeping our defense going, we won’t have any problems.”
Listening hasn’t been too big of an issue, Montalvo said. She said the girls on her team are playing “like they never have before,” and she said they’ve got plenty of room to improve.
“We are playing at a high level, but we aren’t high enough,” Montalvo said. “We learned a lot of good things about our team, and we know what we need to fix. We’ll work on getting better, but it’s all been worth it.”
Montalvo is retiring from the game she loves at the end of this season. She said she understands the stigma that goes with coaching a Northside team, but that doesn’t bother her. She said she has seen this group grow up and she added they have a chance to do something special.
“I’ve been with this group for four years,” Montalvo said. “Everyone wants me to lose. Everyone wants Northside to go down. We’re trying to show that we can play basketball here, and that we can do it with class.”