Pueblo comes up short in final but we call them ‘Warriors’ for a reason

The Warriors (Andy Morales/

Izzy Galindo won his first game with Pueblo back on Nov. 24 of 2012. It was a 34-31 victory over Catalina at the Boyd Baker preseason tournament. The victory came after taking a 63-19 beating by Sahuaro, a 63-13 spanking from Nogales and a humbling 61-49 loss to Sunnyside. Flowing Wells brought the Warriors back to earth after that first win over Catalina with an 81-28 reality check and Rio Rico followed that with a 70-19 win.

Any other program, any other coach, would have sat there and accepted it. It was Pueblo after all – a low-income minority school on South 12th Avenue – the heart and soul of Tucson’s forgotten past. Those kids – our kids – grew up expecting to accept it.

But the win over Catalina wasn’t his first victory. Far from it. He coached his kids when they were, well, kids. He knew what he had and he knew the devastating losses and the lopsided scores would one day flip in his favor.

Sí, se puede!

And they did. That one win turned into 100 plus in only five years. This year, the team that could, recorded victories of 91-33, 96-19, 92-60 and 101-32. They made it to the 4A state championship game against legendary head coach Karen Self and her Seton Catholic Sentinels. Write it down. Saturday morning, Feb. 24 at the Grand Canyon University Arena.

The Sentinels. Ten state championships.

With the championship game tied 29-29 with 1:30 left in the third, the Sentinels exerted themselves and pulled away for a 55-42 win despite 17 points scored by Izzy’s senior daughter Ilyssa.

Ilyssa scored 11 of those points in the final 5:53 of her career. Legendary.

Very rarely does a loss equate a victory. Izzy Galindo told me his program didn’t accomplish much after his team beat Flagstaff 52-32 in the semifinals. It’s understandable why a head coach would think that but he accomplished a great deal – and more.

In time, his kids Ilyssa, Summer Fox, Mariah Clark, Lourdes Guedes-Pereira, Jasmine Belt, Alba Urena, Nysa Urena, Susie Garcia and Alicia Reyes (and dozens more) will age and have kids of their own. God willing.

The victories on the court will fade with time but the victories off the court will last several lifetimes. And that’s a win for all of us. All because they wouldn’t accept what they were expected to accept.

Sí, se puede!

Izzy Galindo and his staff. (Andy Morales/


Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on Andy was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Contact Andy Morales at


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