HARLINGEN — After a couple of weeks of play, the Harlingen RGV Summer Basketball League closed out the first half of the season with a two-day, 18-team tournament.
Thursday night’s tournament finals at the Harlingen High School gymnasium pitted the Los Fresnos Falcons and the Harlingen South Hawks against each other, with the Falcons coming out on top 48-34.
While winning the league tournament is nice, the league means much more to the many local athletes involved.
With numerous athletes from the mid-to-lower Valley hitting the court, the Harlingen league is a loaded one and it gives athletes involved a good chance to get some quality live-action game play in during summer.
“We have a good crop of 18 teams with Los Fresnos, Brownsville Hanna, Rivera, both Harlingen schools and even Santa Rosa, who has one of the better players in the Valley in Leo Lara here,” said Harlingen head coach Greg Yates, who helps coordinate the league, “The kids are out here playing and just competing against each other.”
The key to getting such solid competition for the league has been its popularity.
In addition to Brownsville and Los Fresnos teams coming a long way, the Port Isabel team, for example, joins them and fields a varsity and a JV team.
It’s a solid drive to and from, but getting the teams to travel isn’t hard.
The league’s popularity stems from its fine reputation around the area.
The Harlingen summer league is in its 28th year and was started by TABC 2016 Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Carl Owens, along with Larry Cruz.
Since its inception, it’s been a well-run league from top to bottom.
“We have always used our court, the Harlingen South gym and we have great officials,” Yates said. “That makes teams want to come because they know the facility and the program.”
For Yates, he hopes his players participating are putting in the work to sharpen their skills.
Fortunately for him, any team in the field can be a tough out.
“(Summer league) has given our young kids an opportunity to be around competition, as well as get exposure, work on their game and hopefully, create chemistry,” Yates said. “In basketball it’s not a 3A versus a 6A. If you have two or three kids who can go, you can go against anybody and you see that out here.”