By Tom Price Jr.
Built on respect and honesty, the basketball program at Lindsay High School has a tradition of winning not only on the court but off it as well. A tight knit group of current and former Cardinal ballers act as a secondary family for those who have been fortunate enough to play varsity basketball in Lindsay.
Cardinal home games act as miniature family reunions with a packed gym filled with the faces of former players whose names are stitched into the banners that hang from the old gymnasium's rafters.
For as long as most of these players can remember the face of the program has been that of one man, athletic director and coach Don Perales. Perales took job of varsity basketball head coach in 1973 and 32 years later the 57-year-old is just three wins shy of 400, good enough for third all-time in the valley.
His face however, is the one thing that is misunderstood about the coach who is obsessed with structure and clarity.
"My wife has always told me that I have a look that could kill. Over the years I have two technical fouls from officials just because they saw me looking at them," Perales said. "People always seem to see the mean look but they don't always see the smiles. I admit I am very intense on the court."
His intensity and a flux of talented players has translated into five of the best years the program has ever seen. Since the 1999-2000 season the Cardinals have amassed a 101-39 record and have won at least one playoff game in each of those seasons.
Senior Pablo Rios is a four-year starter for Perales and says the coach and the city of Lindsay are a perfect fit.
"Honestly I don't know if his style would work at a Clovis West," Rios said. "His offense is perfect for schools like Lindsay and Strathmore where you don't get five great players on one team. Everybody knows the flex offense from Lindsay is unstoppable if you run it right, you don't have to have a star point guard."
If anybody could uncover the secrets of the frustrating game of basketball it would be Perales. With as much vigor today as three decades ago he analyzes and studies the game, in search of perfection. In folders tucked away in his desk he has print outs of each practice he has conducted during his career. He uses them for reference when his team starts to skid.
He turns games into a full sheet of statistics, so the next day he can better analyze the mistakes the team made.
"You walk into his office and he still has an old Mac computer on his desk and he can tell you where everything is," assistant basketball coach and former player Erick Smith said. "He has one of those big calendars and only he would be able read. There is so much that has to be done from that desk and he gladly takes it on."
Smith says Perales' role at the school has evolved beyond the normal duties of