LADY SABES JOIN BOYS ON WINNING STREAK
As the SaberCats clinched their 25th win in a row Friday, they inched closer to a district title, which would be their first as a 6A team. If they can master the three-game city gauntlet starting Tuesday, they’ll be 28-3 heading into the playoffs, with a chance to join last year’s record-setting 35-4 club near the top of the all-time charts in town.
Vela’s 25-game consecutive win streak is already a record for the city of Edinburg, topping the 22- and 23-game rolls posted by the Bobcats back in 1963 and 1964, respectively. The famed Fab Four group in 2010-11 ran off a streak of 19 in a row in going 33-3, while the 2007-08 bunch (32-4 overall) also took 19 contests in a row at one stage. In 2015-16, en route to the state tournament as a 5A, Vela had twin win skeins, of 18 and 17 games. Oddly, the Edinburg North machine of 2013-14, which tied the then city record of 33 victories, had three modest streaks of 10 games.
Ranked No. 1 in the Valley for most of the current campaign, this year’s Sabes are averaging 74.4 points per game, as compared to 74.3 last season. The two-year performance puts the Sabes ahead of the great Bobcat teams of the recent past, which averaged 63.0 on the way to the Sweet 16 in 2010-11 and 65.8 in 2007-08, another Sweet 16 edition.
The mid-‘60s ‘Cats of Rene and Robert Alaniz, Vern Boswell and J.J. Avila, averaged 73 ppg one season, but did not register as much playoff success, advancing past bi-district just once in the midst of three district titles in a row, from 1963-65. Of course, every playoff opponent was a district champ in those days, and Edinburg had to face off with Victoria twice and then Kingsville in 1965, the year the Brahmas churned all the way to Austin.
So the latest Sabes are in rare company, by all measures.
They are fast approaching last season’s city record of 291 three-pointers, having knocked in 264 in 29 games. The difference there comes with a look at percentages, as Vela is making 36 percent from beyond the arc, up from 34 percent in 2015-16. The key is senior Ryan Garza, who is firing away at a sizzling 45 percent from downtown.
For historical reference, the Bobcats of 2007-08 connected on 235 bombs, whereas the Fab Four crew made 161.
The Vela girls have been one of the hottest teams in the Valley over the past month, and won for the eighth time in a row Friday, beating P-SJ-A. The Lady Sabes (11-2) still trailed EHS (12-1) in the standings with one night to go, and were hoping for a Pharr North upset of EHS Tuesday. That, coupled with a Vela victory over 1-13 Econ, would leave the clubs tied for first. Either way, the two top teams in the league will be up against the No. 3 and 4 seeds from District 32-6A. Right now, that would be two of the trio of Los Fresnos, San Benito, and Harlingen South.
As for the boys’ race, same story, different order, as Vela is first with EHS second, separated by a game after Friday’s action. The SaberCats put 32 on the board in the first quarter on the way to 90 against P-SJ-A, while Edinburg got some guard punch to beat Southwest. Marc Figueroa (18 points) and Matt Cruz (10) had solid scoring nights to go with 23 from Antoine Woodard, and the Bobcats hold a three-game lead on third place Pharr North. The Raiders came up with a big win against Econ Friday to rise to 7-4, while the Jags (6-5) fell into a tie with Memorial for fourth. In danger of missing the playoffs, Econ has to contend with Vela and EHS this week and will finish at Memorial Feb. 14. The Wolverines have Southwest and Pharr North this week and could be a game up on the Jags heading into the finale.