The girls’ basketball playoffs were set to begin Monday, with EHS traveling to Brownsville to play Hanna and Vela preparing for a home test against Harlingen South.
The Lady Bobcats earned the top seed in 31-6A with a 51-39 victory over rival Weslaco, at Donna North Thursday, rising to 30-8 for the season.
Jenessah Santa Maria fired in 20 points and had eight rebounds and five steals. The team connected on 19 of 24 free throws, junior Leslie Martinez leading the way with a 6-of-6 showing. EHS got out to a nice early lead only to fall behind by 1 after three, but a 17-4 finish cemented the satisfying triumph, marking the third win in four tries against the Pantherettes this season.
Now J.D. Salinas and his No. 3-ranked team would get Hanna, which came fourth in 32-6A with a 4-6 mark. The Lady Eagles have won 26 times this season with a non-district schedule that was favorable to say the least, strength-wise, and have the very definition of a one-girl team. Senior Mia Paz averages 24 ppg and has made 103 three-pointers at a sharp 41 percent clip. She is the same kid who knocked in 50 points against Econ during her junior season and specializes in getting to the line, where she’s hit 83 percent in 2018-19, compiling 225 makes.
Hanna finished the league season with a 2-point victory over South, and for the Lady Hawks of Coach Kelly Garrett, it was their second straight defeat after a 7-1 beginning in 32-6A.
South is just 17-17 overall after playing a much tougher early schedule than Hanna. Garrett, former Econ boss, has a balanced squad with solid depth and this season the club has beaten Brownsville Vets twice, Mercedes, McAllen, and Los Fresnos for signature wins.
Vela (22-11) meanwhile ended third in 31-6A with an undersized group possessing crack shooters and an excellent pressing defense. Senior Kayleen Rios leads in scoring at 14.3 ppg with fellow guards Dre Molina (sophomore) and Lauren Vega (freshman) combining for 20.2 ppg.
The teams went at it back in December at the House of Pain Tourney in McAllen, the Lady SaberCats gaining a 42-36 decision.
Looking ahead, EHS with a win would face the victor in the bi-district tilt matching Pharr North (32-4) and Laredo Nixon (25-12), the best first-round game out there, easily. In the third round, Harlingen or Laredo Alexander will assuredly be waiting on the other side of the bracket. Bet on the Lady Cards to be there, smart money says.
A Vela success in the first stage would net an area try against either McAllen or Laredo United, with the Lady ‘Horns (31-6) a prohibitive favorite to advance past the Lady Bulldogs. United is one of the favorites to win the region this season.
SIGNING SEASON CONTINUES
Vela was active in recent weeks with no fewer than four kids taking the leap to the next level. Softballer Julia Cordon and Darissa Buenrostro will be continuing their careers in college, Cordon at Incarnate Word and Buenrostro at Newman University in Wichita, Kan. Cordon, an all-sport whiz in volleyball and basketball along with hoops, has been a joy to the program for four years and Buenrostro has been instrumental as the catcher of the highly successful diamond outfit.
Jayden Borjas made it official with his signing to Incarnate Word as a football tackle, and Luis Garza, a track athlete who has put in the work to get bigger, faster, stronger, will get a shot at college track. He signed with Neosho Community College in Kansas to hurdle come next fall. Garza has improved every season in sports and is one of the school’s most popular and beloved fellows, to be sure.
Borjas joins a team with seven other Valley football exes, including Ricardo Cerda and Ethan Vela of Edinburg North plus Antonio Arredondo and Michael Arguelles of Vela.
ECON-VELA TO DECIDE TITLE IN BOYS’ HOOPS
With its 10th straight league win, Vela (10-1) comes into Tuesday’s home tilt against Econ with a chance to salt away the crown. The Jags were upended by Weslaco Friday and slipped to 9-2 after scoring just 37 points against the 9-3 Panthers, who are done in regular season play.
EHS (5-6) and North (4-7) are fighting for the final spot, with the Bobcats set to play Weslaco East Tuesday and North in against Donna North. A ‘Cat victory would send them on no matter what the Coogs do against bottom-feeder DN.