Player of the Year: Gonzalez was Gateway’s ‘go-to’ guy
By J. Daniel Pearson
For the News-Gazette
To listen to Felix Gonzalez tell it, it wasn’t the best of basketball seasons.
The Gateway senior guard led his team to 19 wins and averaged almost 19 points a game, but in his mind, it just wasn’t that great of a season.
“We started off slow, played a little better in the middle of the season and started playing pretty well at the end,” Gonzalez said. “But the postseason loss to Bartow was really hard to take. I felt we had a more talented team and for some reason, we just didn’t show up. It was a frustrating way to end of the season.”
His disappointment is understandable. After Bartow defeated Gateway by a narrow 53-47 margin at the regional tournament, the Yellow Jackets went on an impressive run and made it all the way to the state finals – something Gonzalez believes was within reach for his team.
Still, Gonzalez’s performance was enough to earn the Osceola News-Gazette Basketball Player of the Year honor, one he shares with Osceola’s Cortez Edwards.
“Felix was a huge part of our success this year and the last three years because of his scoring ability,” Gateway Coach Robert Baker said. “He had over 1,500 points in his career as a varsity player.”
In his three seasons as a starter, Gonzalez helped Gateway to 55 wins, three Orange Belt Conference championships and a district title. Baker said Gonzalez’s improvement each season has played a key role in that success.
“He really matured over the past three seasons, especially in the area of reading defenses and learning when it is appropriate to attack the basket. Each season he got better at becoming more aggressive and at becoming a team leader. He won a lot of games for us in the last minute.”
Perhaps it’s just the sign of good player and strong competitor that Gonzalez wasn’t happy with Gateway’s season.
“I sort of felt I played OK, but I think you always look back and say you could have been better. We won a lot of games, but we lost some games we should have won.”
Four of Gateway’s losses came by less than six points.
And while the losses – particularly the regional quarterfinal defeat at Bartow – eats at Gonzalez, Baker believes he is more than deserving of Player of The Year honors.
“He was our ‘Go To’ guy and was able to score in critical situations,” Baker said. “When the game was on the line and we needed someone to step up, Felix was there.”
Gonzalez hopes to continue his basketball career at the next level.
He has had contact from several junior colleges. “Hopefully I’ll be able to continue playing basketball in college,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve had some discussions with coaches and I look forward to finalizing those plans in the next few months.”
Felix Gonzalez was clutch for Gateway throughout his varsity career.