SAN BENITO — A tearful Mikayla Garcia walked off the court and gave her head coach, Abel Moreno, a hug after hitting one of her most significant three pointers of her high school career; and it almost did not happen.
After trailing by five points for much of the contest, the San Benito Lady Greyhounds used a 15-6 fourth-quarter run to take down the juggernaut Weslaco Lady Panthers 49-46 and remain the only unbeaten team in District 32-6A.
With all eyes on her, Garcia, a 5-foot-4 guard, could not bare to see her final attempt play out.
With the score tied at 46-46 and the ball on the Weslaco half of the court with 1.9 seconds on the clock, teammate MirandaVallejo recognizes she didn’t have a clean shot and desperately flung the ball over two defenders to an open Garcia, who had just enough time to set and hurl a shot toward the basket.
“Everything just went blank and all I told myself was, ‘I just need to make this shot to win this game,’” said a joyful Garcia after the game. “I was like all nerves and had to go out and just relax and shoot. I kind of closed my eyes and when I opened them I knew it was going in. Afterward I just started crying tears of joy because I was just so happy. I know my team really wanted it and I really wanted this so I’m just a little speechless.
“We have all worked so hard for this win because that’s what we have been working for since we were playing together in fifth grade.”
Garcia’s nine points weren’t a game-high nor a team-high, but her game-tying bucket with 5:03 remaining in the game set up a climatic finish to an incredible contest between two undefeated teams.
“The real thing about Mikayla is that she makes hard buckets when she needs to,” said Moreno. “The thing about her is that she shows up when she has to because that’s a hard three pointer to make and any person would freak out, but not Mikayla. When the shot went up I said, ‘this one’s got a chance because this is Mikayla.’
“We had a 15-6 fourth quarter and the girls were going to fight no matter what because they were set to fight. The girls honestly felt that we had more weapons than they did and all we wanted to do is get them (Weslaco) out of their comfort zone and we were able to do that.”
One key victory for the Lady Hounds came in the fourth period when San Benito held Weslaco star Bree Pena scoreless in the final quarter of the game. Pena finished the game with 22 points, but none in the final moments.
Other Lady Panthers with standout performances were Emily Saenz with 11 points with three 3-pointers and Illiyah Cantu with nine points.
For San Benito, MirandaVallejo had a team-high 14 point with four threes and Haley Lopez, who finished the game with 13 points.
The win adds and extra component to Friday’s rivalry matchup against Harlingen High (5-1).