HARLINGEN — The 2017 high school basketball season brings a new hope and high expectations for the Harlingen South Hawks, who began their season Saturday against a tough playoff-tested McAllen Rowe squad.
Both teams entered Saturday’s matinee matchup state ranked with South at 25 and Rowe at 24.
The Warriors held a 62-54 lead with 1:37 left when South’s Aaron Briones hit back-to-back threes that cut the lead 62-60 with under a minute left in regulation. However, Rowe answered with a couple of late free throws to seal a 65-61 win.
“That is a very good Rowe team,” said Hawks coach Brian Molina. “They (Rowe) started knocking down shots and we knew they would hit them. In the second half I told our boys we would have to weather the storm better than what we did in the second quarter. But, hey, much credit to Rowe. They adjusted and made some plays.”
The Hawks led by as many as eight points midway through the second quarter until Rowe found its form behind the hot shooting of Gabriel Bautisa, who hit four threes in the second quarter that put the Warriors ahead 31-24 at the break.
In the second half, South continued to chip away at the Warriors’ lead, but for every answer South had Rowe would return the favor and continued to make their shots and outscored the Hawks 24-19 in the third quarter.
Briones checked in a team-high 18 points while Sean Turrubiates finished with 14. The season continues Tuesday when South travels to Sharyland Pioneer. The Hawks tip off district play Dec. 29 at home versus Brownsville Hanna.
Despite the loss, South has four returning starters from last season, including Briones, Turrubiates, Grant Lowery and Brandon Bennett.
“I was proud of the kids’ effort today. We saw some things we liked in the fourth quarter, we just need to improve more on the defensive side. The future looks bright; we will be OK,” Molina said.