The Dobson High School girls basketball team came out of the gate hot this season and have yet to slow down as the Mustangs are looking to make a statement in the 6A conference.
It’s been five years since Dobson’s girls team won the 2015 state basketball title, but this group is ready to make the Mustangs back relevant once again.
Dobson hasn’t seen this kind of success on the court since the year they won the state championship. The roster that year had 10 seniors, leaving things pretty bare for current head coach Henry Bribiescas, who took over the program that following fall.
It’s been a bit of rebuilding process for the program.
Things seemed to look promising in the 2017-18 season for Dobson as they had made a return to the playoffs, but they were unfortunately eliminated in the first round.
It was followed up with a disappointing season in 2018-19, as the team was plagued with injuries. A number of the top players were sidelined during the season, making things tough for their backups on the court.
Going into the 2019-20 season, this team knew things would be different. From the change in the team’s culture and chemistry to the talent, experience and health of the players, this was going to be something special for the Mustangs.
“Our girls are starting to believe in themselves and believe in the program,” Bribiescas said. “We’re young, but yet come out every day ready to work hard, and the expectation is always high.”
“Our main goal for this season is to win that region championship and get into the playoffs soundly,” junior Rachel Early added.
Early is one of the three main leaders on the court for the Mustangs. She’s joined by junior Jaden Leslie and freshman Aaliyah Garcia.
“I call them our triple threat. They have definitely emerged,” Bribiescas said. “Aaliyah just being a freshman is following the leads. Jaden didn’t play last year because of a knee injury so we are welcoming her back, and Rachel transferred to us and sat out half the season.”
Garcia said that the bond between the teammates is incredibly strong and attributed their relationships with each other as to why they’ve been so successful on the court.
“I feel like we all have a bond with each other,” Garcia said. “We all know each other on and off the court and we hang out with each other.”
Dobson was 13-3 by the end of winter break before opening up the second half of the season against Westwood on the same day the initial Arizona Interscholastic Association rankings were released. Then 12th-ranked Dobson was able to earn a statement win over region rival Westwood, which was No. 3 at the time.
It was a victory that helped to establish an identity for the team moving forward.
“For us, it was even bigger, and we played that up with the girls,” Bribiescas said. “We hadn’t beaten a team in the top five since I had been here.”
Now, the girls’ basketball team is the hottest team on Dobson’s campus. It’s something the girls take pride in.
“This is the first winning team I’ve ever been on in any sport I’ve ever played, so I almost don’t know how to act,” Early said.
Because of the diverse demographics of the student population at Dobson, not every player comes from a solid home foundation, which can have an impact on their attendance and performance.
For Bribiescas, the goal is to make sure they’re giving the players what they need to have a safe and enjoyable place to open themselves up for play.
It’s something that the players recognize and appreciate because it creates an environment where they’re able to grow.
“We have the most admirable coaches. They donate all of their money back to the program, so we are able to do things together,” Early said. “In doing the most for us, they put in hours every single week and it’s just a feeling that you know whether you win or whether you lose, your coaches are there for us.”
Dobson’s girls’ team hopes that they’ll be able to repay their coaches for all they do with a deep run in the playoffs to capture a 6A title.