Freshman A’nnika Saenz drove for a hoop and then stole the ball for another two, one-on-none. Sophomore Bri Sanchez got a feed from old hand Jayla Santa Maria and rolled to a deuce. The Lady Bobcats tallied off an inbounds play via Santa Maria, courtesy of a rock-ribbed screen from Sanchez. Mercedes Hernandez, four-year star, dumped in three long three-pointers, and well, that was about it.
One will watch basketball for many seasons and not see such an absolute clinic as the one put on by EHS Friday night. At one point, after a period, it was 31-2, Lady Bobcats and Vela was like a victim in a nightmare, unable to do anything about the continual horrors visited upon it time after time after time.
The Lady ‘Cats eradicated the Lady SaberCats, 84-22, rising to 9-0 in District 31-6A in front of a rabid, hothouse home crowd that enjoyed every dominant minute of the bludgeoning. Masterful in all phases, EHS did not allow Vela (4-5) to breathe, clamping down on defense, operating perfectly on offense, and far surpassing the 41-point blowout handed to Vela in the first round.
Coming in, Coach J.D. Salinas’ top-ranked crew was averaging 74.5 points in district, allowing 30. Vela, winner of three straight, was expected to put up a challenge. But early on, the Red and Blue made the Blue and Black all black and blue, hitting shots, getting a series of blocks from the fast improving Sanchez, winning the physicality battle, and turning the Rivalry Rematch into a Monumental Mismatch almost from the opening tip.
Numbers speak volumes about this one. It was 46-7 at the half, 60-9 after three, and mercifully the Lady ‘Cats pulled up a bit down the stretch, allowing the bewildered visitor a total of 13 points over the last eight minutes.
The Lady Sabes, who fell a game behind North, were in a zombie-like trance the whole way, with dreadful body language borne from the inability to stop the onslaught. One expects that Lottie Zarate’s young bunch might find a way to recover and get into the playoffs for the sixth season running. But make no mistake: Friday was devastating.
Santa Maria, the 2,000-point kid, finished with 21 points to lead, while Hernandez pumped in 17. Salinas says that as the youngsters continue to learn the ropes, he has been pleased with the way those veterans have become coaches of a sort.
“Daysha [Tijerina], A’nnika, our new faces, they have really benefited by learning from the girls who have been around awhile,” he explained. “They had to learn what we wanted them to do, how this team does things, and I think they are starting to do that. Daysha for example, she has been getting more minutes because she is understanding everything so much better, compared to the start of the season.”
Salinas also noted that during the non-district rush, when the team at one point contested an amazing 23 games in 30 days, the educational opportunities had to come on the fly.
“Now that we are into district we have some days to work on things, and that’s when the veterans have stepped up and taught the new ones some things,” he said. “And with such great assistants, well sometimes I just facilitate and get out of the way. George Olvera, we’ve been together for years and he has really done a great job with Bri and the inside kids, teaching how to play the post. And with ‘B’ [Bianca Torre] working so well with the guards, we feel we have made some strides, and some of that was on display tonight.”