ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Brian Joyce is ready for his first full season as La Cueva Bears boys basketball coach. As a player, Joyce helped lead the Bears to a state championship in 1989. He is happy to be back as head coach after teaching the game in the college ranks.

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“It’s a privilege and honor to be back here,” said Joyce. “Coach Castillo and the coaches that were here, Coach O’Neill, many assistants were a huge influence on my life.” Joyce had his first season with the Bears last year.

With COVID-19 in the way, his first year didn’t feel like much of a season. Interaction with the team was very limited. “You’re trying to build culture online,” said Joyce. “You’re trying to build culture with short-term schedules, in terms of practice. You can’t contact people. You can’t play defense. There was a lot of things that we weren’t able to work on last year.”

Joyce has a young team but is talented. Six-foot-three guard Exodus Ayers is fresh out of football and is expected to make a strong contribution. Joyce also has a new addition to the frontcourt in six-foot eleven Daniel Jacobsen from Wisconsin.

“We’re just a younger team coming in, mostly ran by juniors,” said Ayers. “We have a couple of big seniors that can make plays. We just work hard and do the right thing, we can be a good team.”

Jacobsen agrees. “It’s really good chemistry,” said Jacobsen. “We have a great coaching staff. All of the guys are really good with each other, great passing.” La Cueva will start the season at Atrisco Heritage Tuesday at 7 p.m.