By Laura Amato
It’s always been the same approach – work hard, score points, win basketballs games.
Alonzo Ortiz-Traylor isn’t technically a high school basketball player anymore after coming up just short of a CHSAA “A” championship berth with McClancy this season, but the Woodside native still isn’t willing to change his approach as he prepares to play at the collegiate level.
He’s just as determined as ever, focused on that same goal and that same drive as he prepares to take the next step on the court and, more importantly, off it.
“From freshman year, it’s always been about winning. It’s a winning mentality,” Ortiz-Traylor said. “I want to win, go home happy, see my team happy. That’s everything to me.”
He might not have won a championship this season, but Ortiz-Traylor, who competed in the CHSAA “A/B” senior showcase at Fordham University earlier this month, made his presence known every time he stepped on the court. He averaged 15.2 points per game, among the top scorers in the division, and hit the 20-point mark on five different occasions.
But he didn’t care too much about the stats. Ortiz-Traylor, as per usual, was simply focused on winning.
“Everything was all about winning, whether I could distribute the ball, score it myself. It was just about winning,” he said. “I just wanted to have a great senior year. It was all about the final year.”
Ortiz-Traylor’s basketball journey – and his approach to winning – began more than a decade ago when his parents put a basketball in his hands. He took to the game immediately and, ever since, has focused every spare moment he has on fine-tuning his skill.
Of course, he also gets a bit of help from his parents as well. An only child, Ortiz-Traylor is as close to his mother and father as any of his teammates and the Crusaders star plays as much for his family as he does for himself.
“I want to get my mother and father out of the position that we’re in,” Ortiz-Traylor said. “I want to make a better living for all three of us. I want to make basketball my career and go on to college for free. That’s everything I’ve focused on my whole career.”
Ortiz-Traylor played summer ball for the Juice All-Stars last year, competing with some of the top players in the area and he considered the possibility of leaving McClancy ahead of thsi season. It didn’t take long, however, for him to realize that he only wanted to play for the Crusaders and, despite coming up short of his title dreams, Ortiz-Traylor doesn’t regret a moment.
“It was a hard decision to come back, but these guys are like my family,” he said. “I just wanted to play my last year, having fun with them. I love my coach, he did an awesome job this year. We should have gone further than we did, but it happens.”
Ortiz-Traylor is still playing as much basketball as he can – notching hours in the gym with a self-imposed shooting schedule that requires hundreds of shot attempts a day – and he has yet to get tired of the game.
This is his dream and the future he’s locked in on since he was 4 years old and, now, it’s about taking that dream to the next level. Ortiz-Traylor verbally committed to LIU Post a few weeks ago and he’s anxious to get ready for the college game. He knows it won’t be easy, but not much has been when it’s come to basketball. He’s still not going to change his approach.
“Hard work and mental focus. That’s all it is really,” Ortiz-Traylor said. “It’s always been in my heart to do that. I know that if I want to be better than the next person, I have to continue working each and every day.”