Alvarez breaks past height barrier to lead Pantherettes in defensive steals


Junior Nina Alvarez forces the steal from a Southlake Dragon player in the Pantherettes recent playoff win. (Karla Estrada photo)

Junior Pantherette Nina Alvarez steals the ball, makes a fast break around the offense that just witnessed her performance, and rushes down the court maneuvering around a host of defenders. The crowd goes wild as she does a spin move then makes a behind the back pass to her teammate who is standing inside the paint. The shot goes in and Alvarez hand checks Rosie Davis while getting back on defense.

“Playing alongside Nina is fun and challenging” senior forward Madison Townley said “You have to always have your eyes open because she drops amazing passes from anywhere on the court.”
Moves like this are the norm for Alvarez who currently sits in the top ten for assist with 111 total on the season. This greedy point guard averages 4.5 steals a game leading her team for the year.

“The key to success is keeping your eye on the ball, playing the passing lane, stay hungry and motivated to stop the other opponent,” Alvarez said.

Measuring in the game at only 5’2, Alvarez has a task of guarding alongside her teammates some of the best players in the district and nation. While those looking from the outside in may view this as challenging Alvarez is up for the challenge.

“I don’t view my height as disadvantage, I see it as an advantage,” Alvarez said. “I also must stay cautious and use other things against my opponent such as speed and quickness.”

Junior Nina Alvarez pulls the ball down during the Southlake game. (Karla Estrada photo)
Junior Nina Alvarez pulls the ball down during the Southlake game. (Karla Estrada photo)

Pantherette head coach Cathy Self-Morgan has coached her fare share of guards who are playing on the college level today. Of those she best compares Alvarez to Texas standout Ariel Atkins who helped Duncanville to two state championships.

“Her competitiveness and tenacity on the court are a lot like Ariel,” Self-Morgan said. “She has a great work ethic and picks up her game on both ends of the court.”

As a youngster Alvarez though not as tall as most players wanted to continue playing basketball to the varsity level. From the very beginning of her young career she developed an attitude of staying up with the best.

“My parents don’t believe in giving up,” Alvarez said. “So when I started that’s the mindset that I was taught.”

Alvarez’ mother still looks back and remembers how Nina loved sports from the time she was born.

“She would roll around the floor with a basketball playing with it in her hands then,” her mother Rose Alvarez. “She even tried playing some football with her brothers when she was young.”

It was basketball however that intrigued Alvarez as she watched her older brother play while her father coached them in youth basketball. She began to strike an interest in the game and as early as the age of eight, she played with her brother on a boys team. Her father Luis Alvarez remembers her early days when Nina would play her brothers at the age of six.

“When she very little, she would get the ball and keep going,“ Mr. Alvarez said “She would do almost anything she could to imitate the other boys she played with.”

Alvarez and her brother pose for a basketball shot as kids. (Submitted photo)

Alvarez has transformed her game over the years becoming even faster and learning how to take advantage of her opponents. While her father says she thrives on her lockdown defense, she is coming along well in her offensive game as well lately.

“She shoots better now than when she first started,” Mr. Alvarez said. “Coach Self-Morgan is a fabulous coach and is making her a sound player and helping her game.”

Nina already has offers to play basketball at the next level and plans to play while studying criminology. Nina says she has always had to help people on and off the court and plans to pursue being a police officer after graduation.

“Nina is a nice kid and has good leadership and work ethic” Self-Morgan said “She makes smart choices and has good character. She will make a great police officer.”