The young and relatively inexperienced 4A Springtown girls basketball team traveled to Azle to take on the hard-charging 5A Lady Hornets in late November.
The Lady Porcupines were thumped on the scoreboard but not on the court. Springtown made the game more exciting than the 54-14 score indicated because the girls never stopped hustling or striving to win.
“We came in here knowing how Azle is,” said Blanca Alapont, playing in her first season with Springtown. “We know Azle is good, but we fought. We at least tried.”
Much of the Pines’ work ethic can be attributed to Alapont herself. The 5-foot 3-inch point guard arrived four months ago as a Spanish exchange student brimming with positivity and athleticism.
“She always makes things fun,” said head coach Kyle Sivadon. “I enjoy every day getting to work with her and everything that she’s brought to the team.”
Springtown’s 1-5 record shows the girls have struggled to claim victories, but most of their games have been close, beginning with the season opener on Nov. 4. Springtown lost to Wichita Falls 65-60 in overtime.
Alapont ranks among the area’s top players in assist-to-turnover ratio.
“She works really hard and is one of the best passers I’ve coached in 22 years,” Sivadon said. “She has a lot of experience with basketball and knows Xs and Os.”
The 15-year-old Spaniard has traveled in the past but rarely outside of Europe. Coming to America and living in Springtown has been a fun adventure, she said.
“I like it a lot,” she said. “I really like the people. They are very nice. I really like the family I’m with and all my friends.”
She took basic English classes as a youngster but rarely used the language in daily speech while growing up. She figured she would remember enough words and phrases to get by in the United States without too much difficulty. Then, she arrived in Texas, heard the drawls, accents and unfamiliar expressions and realized conversations would be more challenging than she had anticipated.
“I thought the English level I had was going to be enough to come here, but no,” she said. “If you come here to America to study and you think you know English, you don’t know. It’s like I’m starting from zero learning English.”
Her English has improved during her stay in Springtown. She understood questions and responded clearly if somewhat haltingly for this interview.
Alapont has been involved in sports for years, including gymnastics, soccer, tennis and basketball. In Springtown, she is focusing on her favorite, basketball.
In June, she will return to her family on the eastern coast of Spain.
“I miss my family and my friends, but this is a year to focus on myself,” she said.
Alapont’s focus is benefiting herself and her teammates.
“All the girls love her,” Sivadon said. “She has been doing a great job for us.”