What caught the eye of Ira Harge Jr. was the attention to detail assistant coach Arthur Gonzales showed.
The former head boys basketball coach at Pecos believes that quality will be a great asset for Gonzales as he steps into Harge’s shoes to pilot the school’s flagship program. Gonzales, who has been an assistant under Harge for the past five seasons, was hired at the end of May to succeed him. Harge was hired in April as the athletic director at Española Valley.
Harge said Gonzales was an instrumental part of the Panthers’ success, as Pecos won four straight state titles and reached the semifinals in the past five years.
“He finds all the little things that could be wrong or that we can improve upon and helps correct them,” Harge said. “In a scouting report, he will see something that is minute that gives us an advantage that is invaluable. It’s kinda his nature.”
Gonzales, a 1992 Pecos graduate, said he felt grateful to get the job and hopes he can continue the level of success Pecos enjoyed during its four-year run. The Panthers have gone 114-8 since the 2016-17 season.
While he spent the last five years with the varsity staff, Gonzales also coached club and middle school teams over the past 12 years. He coached the graduating nine seniors, which included his son, Devin Gonzales.
His hire means Pecos will continue its style of pressing and running that has made it one of the top programs in the state.
“This just tells me that they want to continue in the direction we’ve been going over the past few years, and continuity is huge,” Gonzales said. “They know how I am and they’re good with that.”
Continuity has been the key to Pecos’ run, but that will be challenged after losing the graduating seniors. Next year’s team will be young, inexperienced and full of mostly juniors and sophomores. Add to that the COVID-19 epidemic shutting down schools and activities since mid-March, and Gonzales has a tall order if he expects to extend the streak of blue trophies.
Normally, the summer is crucial in working on overall individual and team development through open gym, individual workouts and attending camps statewide. With teams getting ready to resume workouts Monday, Gonzales said those sessions will be vital in determining what kind of team Pecos will have for the season.
“We have a lot of stuff that we’ve used in the past,” Gonzales said. “We’re definitely going to work on conditioning, dribbling, shooting — all of the things we can do. Once we get to [intrasquad] scrimmaging, that’s where we will get a chance to see our maturity and where we’re at.”
If anyone has faith in Gonzales’ ability to get the job done, it’s Harge.
“I know there were other candidates interviewed, but, to me, he is the perfect candidate,” Harge said. “He helped run our offense and defense and he knows our system. And like any good coach, he will change it to his personality and his upcoming kids that he’s got.”