CALHOUN HOOPS AT-A-GLANCE
RECORD: 13-5, 2-0 District 30-4A
• NEXT GAME: Dec. 27-29 at the Brazosport ISD Holiday Classic
• Jan. 4, vs. Beeville, 8 p.m.
• Jan. 8, at Victoria East, 8 p.m.
• Jan. 15, at Calallen, 8 p.m.
• Jan. 18, vs. T-M, 8 p.m.
• Jan. 22, at G-P, 8 p.m.
• Jan. 25, vs. Victoria West, 8 p.m.
Isaac Cardona can do it all.
The 6-foot-5 senior for Calhoun can hold down the post position and grab rebounds with the best of them, or he can play the point and hit an teammate in stride from the other side of the court.
"I never played against a guy that had a combination of skills that good," said Calhoun coach Aaron Anderson. "The speed, ball-handling, vision, shooting, passing, the body-spacial awareness and even the soft-touch free throws. He has the total package."
Cardona helped guide the Sandcrabs to the District 30-4A championship a year ago and are well on their way to another with a 13-5 overall record and two district wins, one of which was over Victoria West on Friday night (52-39).
As the Warriors hosted Calhoun, it was Cardona who took the opening tip off and then played the point guard position, finding open teammates to build a lead. Defensively, Cardona shut down anything close to the rim and grabbed any rebounds that fell within reach.
By the second quarter, Cardona already had seen several double-teams.
"That's every game probably," Cardona said with a laugh. "I know I can depend on my teammates and hit the open man. Just because I'm bigger in size and if they double-team me using my hands I can see right over them. If I know I'm faster, I'll just go right by them too."
Like all great things in life, Cardona's vast skill-set didn't just happen overnight. It has been something Cardona has worked on over the years, using experience to get better and better.
It's a process that started when he was 4 years old and has yet to stop.
"My father was a two-time all-state basketball player at Austwell-Tivoli and he taught me everything," Cardona said. "I was always with a ball everywhere I went. I'd be playing until all hours of the night."
Cardona's father put him through some of the same drills that made him a great basketball player. The duo went through the fundamentals of the game, including dribbling, shooting and rebounding.
"It wasn't a shoot around," Cardona said. "It was something you get at a practice."
One of the things his father stressed to him was the importance of being a good ball-handler and dribbler.
That work ethic helped form Cardona into a versatile basketball player, but the hard work hasn't stopped.
"He's always in the gym. He always has a ball in his hands," Anderson said. "I've seen him out at the park, in the rain or shine. He's out there with a hoodie on, running and working out. That's a testament to his work ethic and he always wants to get better."
What he didn't get with practice, however, was his size.
At 6-5 and weighing 230 pounds, Cardona is easily the biggest player on his team and most of his opponents.
"Going into junior high I noticed everybody stopped growing and I kept growing," Cardona said. "Now I've stopped, I think. I don't know. Maybe I haven't."
Throw in his versatile skill set, Cardona is a rare basketball player. However, there are still parts of his game he wants to get better at .
"Rebounding and speed," Cardona said. "You have to have the speed to turnaround and find your guy. Blocking out is the main thing I work on to get better at rebounding."
Players like Cardona don't come around every four years and for the Sandcrabs, he's their most important player on the court, and off it as well.
Cardona has worked with elementary students and has volunteered at his church.
"He does a lot of things off the basketball court," Anderson said. "But on the court he's kind of like a third coach. He's directing guys and helping them get in position. He's a very intelligent player, as well as in the classroom."
"He's our rock and when he's not in the game we tend to struggle a little bit. He's just an all around great guy."