KINGSVILLE — After winning the District 32-4A title that was capped by an undefeated league season, the La Feria Lions were hoping to carry that momentum into a nice, long postseason run.
The Sinton Pirates, however, had playoff plans of their own and, unfortunately for the Lions, are the ones moving on to the area round after a hard-fought 58-56 overtime victory over the Lions in a Class 4A bi-district playoff game on Tuesday at Kingsville King High School.
Lions senior Jalen Morrell led the team in scoring with 25 points and teammate Julian Trevino pitched in 14 points in the losing effort.
After an edgy first half, La Feria took the momentum with a 9-0 run in the third quarter and limited Sinton to just seven points to take a 36-29 lead heading into the fourth period.
“I wanted to make sure they were boxing out and grabbing those rebounds due to Sinton’s height advantage over us,” said Lions head coach Dario Sanchez. “Also we did a better job of attacking their zone and contesting the shots of one of their best perimeter shooters.”
To begin the fourth, La Feria’s Billy Watson drilled a three pointer to give the Lions their largest lead of the night at 39-29.
Although the Lions were in prime position to seal the game, Sinton made a run of its own when it needed it most.
The Pirates cooled down the Lions and were able to tie the game at 39-39 with four minutes left to play.
Morrell then took it upon himself to score the Lions’ next six points, matching every basket Sinton had to offer to tie the game again and send into overtime.
“I can’t say enough about him. He really took on the responsibility of leading his team this year, especially in this game,” Sanchez said of Morrell. “Whenever we’re down, he’s been the guy to take over and fix that for us. We’re definitely going to miss that.”
The height of the Pirates came in handy during overtime as they outrebounded La Feria 8-0 and used that advantage to take a 58-53 lead near the end of OT.
In the final seconds, Morrell drove down the court and drilled a three-point shot, but it just wasn’t enough.
“This team fought hard all season, let alone in this game, and they’ve had a lot of success,” said Sanchez. “We’re going to graduate four and have eight returning for next year, so I think we’ll be all right moving forward.”