Edison boys basketball coach Art Vela had a firm directive for his players before they left practice Thursday.
I told them I want to practice Monday, Vela said.
For that to happen, the Golden Bears must earn a berth in next week's University Interscholastic League state tournament by winning the Region IV-4A crown this weekend.
Given the competition, that's a tall order for Edison. But the Bears aren't backing down.
We're going in to win in, not just be entertainment for somebody, Vela said. These are tough, inner-city kids and they're not going to lay down for anybody. We want them to go out there and do a good job of representing their community, their school and Bears basketball.
We don't them to be happy just to make it to the regional tournament. We're just two wins from the state tournament. They don't understand how close they are. They're receptive and I think they're going to play hard.
Edison (29-7) plays Brennan (32-5) in the first game of a doubleheader at 6 p.m. Friday at Blossom Athletic Center's Littleton Gym.
Lanier (29-6) faces Alamo Heights (33-2) in the other 4A regional semifinal at 8 p.m.
The winners meet for the regional championship at 2 p.m. Saturday at Littleton Gym.
Brennan's Azzinaro has had hot scoring hand in playoffs
Edison, which finished second to Lanier in District 29-4A, has defeated Victoria West (56-47), Roma (65-38) and Brackenridge (64-53) in the playoffs.
The Bears face the challenge of slowing down Brennan junior point guard John Azzinaro, who is averaging 32.3 points in the playoffs. He scored 40 points in an 87-70 victory against New Braunfels Canyon on Tuesday night.
He's an outstanding shooter and scorer, Vela said. Brennan has a very athletic team. They like to push the ball offensively, so our transition defense will be critical. Really, our overall defense is going to be critical.
Edison is led by senior point guard Arty Vela, the coach's son. An outstanding floor leader, Vela is averaging 12.9 points. Senior guard Marco Guerrero (13.1) is the Bears' top scorer.
The other starters, all seniors, are guard David Casias, forward David Perez and center Mike Espina. Senior Sergio Roel and junior Philip Johnson are the team's top backups.
A lot of these kids have been playing together since they were freshmen, Coach Vela said. They're really a tight-knit group and they have real good chemistry.
Sam Houston in 3A regional semifinals
Vela is in his third season as the Bears' head coach and seventh year at Edison. His son has been a starter since his sophomore season.
Arty sees the floor well and he gets us into our offense, Vela said.
When Vela isn't scoring, he's dishing off to Guerrero and Casias, who help fuel the Bears' up-tempo offense.
David is a good shooter and Marco is a more of a slasher who also can shoot, Coach Vela said.
Perez, sidelined with a back injury for about three weeks earlier this season, and Espina give Edison a solid inside presence.
They're good rebounders and they anchor our defense, Coach Vela said. They set the tone for our defense.
Edison and Lanier are among three San Antonio Independent School District teams in the fourth round of the playoffs. Sam Houston (26-3) puts its 19-game winning streak on the line against Corpus Christi Miller in the Region IV-3A semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday in Corpus Christi.
The Region IV-5A tournament is Friday and Saturday at UTSA.
Warren plays Laredo United at 6 p.m. and Clark clashes with Laredo Alexander at 8 p.m. The winners meet for the regional crown at noon Saturday at UTSA.