While 7-0 EHS has charged into domination after one half of 31-6A hoops competition this year, accented by a 23-point demolition of Pharr North Friday, the Lady SaberCats are shuttling along in good shape also, 5-2 at the turn.

Vela clobbered Econ on the road Friday, 50-26, as springy junior Bianca Cortez was masterful with 16 points and 10 boards, and the Lady Sabes continued to play tremendous defense. In their last five games, they’ve allowed an average of 28.8 points and with senior Jaida Muhammad (15.3 ppg) and Cortez (14.8), Coach Lottie Zarate has two scorers of note to go with a slew of hustle kids and able fill-ins.

As her team looks to the second half of the season – starting at North Tuesday and continuing with EHS Friday – the hard-nosed ex Lady ‘Cat star said that Vela is beginning to play well.

“We had a really tough schedule early on, and we took some losses,” said Zarate, whose girls have risen to wins in five of seven now. “But the girls understood that we were trying to get them ready for the big games, in district: I want them to want games like that, it always makes them better, gets them prepared for what is to come.”

Vela pounced on the wounded Lady Jags for a 15-3 advantage after one quarter and cruised from there, getting ample playing time for the second unit; this is something that will stand the club in good stead as it eyes a playoff spot in its return to the Class 6A ranks. Sophomore Kayleen Rios and junior Julia Cordon are hard-working guards off the bench with 6-0 Laura Lira getting minutes in the post. Against Econ Friday, juniors Kevynne Aleman and Lorena Carillo, along with sophomore Malerie Badillo, also got some action.

As for Econ, it has been a trying year for Coach Mari Campos, who saw her team fall to 1-6 with the loss to Vela. Seniors Daniela Castro (10.4 rpg) and Lizbeth Cabrera have been bright spots but the loss of junior banger Brittany Cantu (8 ppg, 9 rpg) to a knee injury has hurt the effort.

The Lady Jags have thrown a bunch of sophomores into the mix by necessity, and slowly the group is starting to get its sea legs. Aside from Castro (15 points, nine rebounds) Friday, the youngsters were working hard to stay up. The most rugged is Alyssa Perez, a floor burner who barged for 10 rebounds, while the most athletic is Jennifer Barron, who got six rebounds and withstood a head-knock from the brick wall late in the game. Nelly Morales and Brenda Puente are two more 10th-graders who are learning the varsity speed on the go, and Campos thinks that given time, the crew of newbies will come through.

“Well, they’re playing a lot, and they’re giving it all they have,” said the veteran coach, who also lost promising newcomer Karla Perez to a torn ACL in the preseason. ‘They’re taking their lumps right now and we’ll see what they can do down the line.”


Meanwhile, J.D. Salinas’ EHS squad is killing it big time right now. The 62-39 whipping of Pharr North Friday gave the squad a two-game lead at the midway point, as the Sensational Santa Marias combined for 39 points in the rout. Mercedes Hernandez pitched in with her seventh straight game of double figures, and for the league season, Edinburg has now scored an average of 62.9, allowing just 35.4 per.

After narrow wins of nine against Vela and six over P-SJ-A Memorial, the Lady ‘Cats have bludgeoned four foes by 26, 27, 43, and 23 points. They were to host Econ Tuesday and then wait for the showdown with the Lady Sabes, at Vela Friday.