The Bobcats took good care of the basketball and then they didn’t. They made big free throws, and yet they didn’t. They appeared to be ready to lose their poise, didn’t, but then did, a bit.
It was that type of wild and maddening night for bi-district as Edinburg, seeking its first postseason win since 2012, fell behind by double figures early, later led by 11 at one stage, and then was defeated in the last two seconds, by 1. The victor was Harlingen South, which converted a floater on the baseline in the waning moments to win, 42-41, advancing to area in the process.
The team dropping out, EHS, finishes 22-9 after one of the most distressing losses in program annals. Facing a tough matchup zone they could not initially solve, the ‘Cats went down 16-6 midway through a sluggish first half, only to rally behind sub Marc Figueroa to close to within 3 at the break. Junior post Jesus Cantu spent many minutes on the bench in the half with a bloody nose and the Hawks converted four three-pointers in the first two periods.
But after the intermission the home side picked up the pace with sophomore Antoine Woodard as the star. He swooped for boards and passed for three excellent assists, adding seven of his 10 points for a 19-10 EHS run in the quarter. The ‘Cats established an 11-point advantage late in the third as their big men came off the blocks to handle the ball up top and pivot/pass, foiling the Hawk zone.
The topsy-turvy night continued as EHS took some air out of the ball, only to see the Hawks climb back in as the fourth quarter went on. Key turnovers let South have some momentum, but Edinburg battled to maintain the edge. Cantu had returned to score eight points in that fine third and in the last minutes, EHS was cautious, taking some air out of the ball.
Cantu and Damian Garcia made two free throws each under pressure; Garcia, who had 11 points, canned a pair at 0:44 for a 3-point lead but South answered with two free tosses. The Bobcats misfired on a 1-and-1 with 23 seconds left and the Hawks had the last shot: on the deciding sequence, Noah Perez lofted the winner over the outstretched hand of Cantu to complete the comeback win.
In all, a very frustrating result, especially given the team’s rally from a big hole early on. The Bobcats outrebounded the opponent by 5, made 10 of 13 free throws, and showed real grit and determination. The last shot was ganas all the way and nothing else can be said.
The bright side is that the ‘Cats bring back five of the top six rotation members for next season. The dark side is that the second-round opponent would have been McAllen, which upset an injury-riddled Laredo Alexander club to advance Tuesday. EHS had beaten the Bulldogs twice in the regular season.
The season came to an end for the city Tuesday as Econ lost its playoff try at Weslaco, by 8. The Jags were back in the Dance for the first time since 2010 and played well against the 32-6A champ Panthers. They are loaded for more in 2017-18.