After all the fuss about “Vela this and Vela that,” with many observers suggesting that the SaberCats would struggle to be a factor in the basketball race … enough already.
Vela climbed to 8-1 and in undisputed position as leader of District 31-6A last week, clobbering P-SJ-A Memorial by 19 as Nate Gomez and Aziel Garcia combined for 26 points.
The Sabes gained the top spot courtesy of a very surprising loss by EHS to a P-SJ-A team that Econ had massacred Tuesday by 43 points. That dropped the Bobcats to 7-2 and into a tie for second with North, which recovered from a 9-point deficit to take out the Jags Friday, 53-46. Andrew Nunez went for 19 to lead the 7-2 Coogs while senior Ben Vela pitched in another dozen.
Tuesday’s pending clash between EHS and North assumed all the more importance after Friday’s results. The ‘Cats won the first rounder between the two by 11, but played without star Antoine Woodard against the Bears Friday. Things are getting mighty interesting in this Edinburg-dominated league, as the four Pharr-area entries are a woeful 7-29 in district through nine nights.
North has been getting production out of Ricky Alaniz (11.6 in five league games), who has hit four bombs each in three of the five. Izaiah Rangel led the club to a victory over Pharr North Tuesday with 22 points and a career-high 19 boards.
The Lady ‘Cats are inching toward another district crown, as they are 11-0 with three dates left on the ticket. Still, the Lady Raiders of Pharr North are just a step behind at 10-1, and then it gets weird. Three team are knotted up in third with 6-5 marks; North, Vela, and P-SJ-A Memorial. The Lady Sabercats scored a huge win Friday, 59-57 over Memorial, while North was coasting by Econ, 42-28.
Vela gets Pharr North, P-SJ-A, and Econ to finish, while the Lady Coogs have EHS Tuesday and then Memorial and the Bears at the wire. Memorial finishes with the trio of P-SJ-A, North, and P-SJ-A Southwest.
FUTURE SABES IN THE BIG TIME
Two Valley football players recently received a significant honor, as Mark Garza and Chase Campbell, both on their way to Vela in the fall, were selected to compete in the International Bowl, a Team USA U15 all-star game played at AT&T Stadium.
Gomez is a 300-pound eighth-grade center at South Middle School and younger brother of former SaberCats standout Michael Gomez. Campbell, a 6-0 quarterback and like Gomez considered a top future prospect, is the younger brother of Vela soccer player Taylor Campbell.
NORTH TABS LONG-TIME ASSISTANT FOR VOLLEY ROLE
With the resignation of Adrian Cavazos after a long and successful tenure at the helm of North volleyball, the program looked within for a replacement. Raul McCallum, for 17 years an assistant with Cavazos, takes over the Lady Coogs charge now. He has also been the assistant in girls’ soccer under veteran Danny Valdez for two decades.
POOL ACTION LAST WEEK
EHS made a strong showing at the 31-6A district meet, clinching second place in the girls’ and third in the boys’ competition. The Vela girls were third while the North boys were third. Champs at the meet included Vela’s Ashley Benevente in the 50-yard freestyle and the EHS team for the 200 freestyle relay. Lady Bobcat Emily Anaya paced the field in 1-meter diving event, with schoolmate Jamie Maldonado second in the boys’ portion.