Monday, as the summer league got cooking in earnest, was a solid indication that the upcoming basketball season is going to be incredibly entertaining in town.
North and Econ went at it over at EHS, and it was a real battle from end to end, start to finish, with many of the stars waiting to rise in the local stratosphere doing their stuff.
The Jags claimed a 2-point win in a hard-fought, aggressive and back-and-forth contest, getting contributions from sharpshooting Johnny Barrientos early, All-Valley candidate Saul Alanis at the end, and shifty point guard Angel Salinas at numerous junctures.
North countered with the leaping exploits of Izaiah Rangel, long-range bombing from Ricky Alaniz, and some promising work from new face Felix Aleman and a guy, Dimitri Pardo, who came on strong at the close of the last Coog campaign.
And yet the final blow of a breathtaking bout was landed by role player Omar Trevino, who drove for a layup with 0:04 left to hand the Jags a 45-43 victory.
But not before North nearly tied it again on a terrific catch of a last-second lob by Rangel, who Monday ran the court, leapt for boards, and passed extremely well. As North seeks to rebound from a subpar 21-loss season, the lanky sophomore has served notice that he is about to take off, literally and figuratively.
North did a bang-up job of hanging in there minus proven commodity Noah Chavana, who sat out the opener with a back injury. Alaniz tied the game twice with hoops, but in the end, the Jags got the W. With Salinas penetrating and scoring and new forward Ricky Chapa showing solid power underneath, Econ had more weapons, and even though Alanis suffered through an off night shooting the ball, he canned a huge 3 late after a steal by teammate Jose Castillo. This gave the Orange a 43-39 edge at the 2-minute mark and after North’s Alaniz knotted things down the road, Trevino broke free for the winner.
These two teams enjoy going at it, as was clear from the intensity of the night’s action. Once district rolls around, the Jags and Coogs should be right in the middle of the scrum. Expect EHS there too, though athletic Antoine Woodard is out for the summer with a knee injury; the Bobcats started slowly, getting drubbed by Mac High Monday, as star post Jesus Cantu (foot problem) did not play. But if healthy, they’re a contender for sure.
And now begins the David Keith Era at Vela, after the ex-Bobcat guard came over from a long and successful tenure at Sharyland to take the reins of the SaberCat program. Though he enters his first year without two of the best players in city history – graduated legends Ryan and Garza and Alec de la Cruz – the cerebral Keith should have enough pieces left in camp to make a run at the league title.
But three city fives of quality will definitely have something to say about that.