HARLINGEN — The Harlingen Cardinals needed a win and got one in convincing fashion against San Benito on Tuesday, 70-40.
The Cards got a 21-point performance from junior Michael Arellano as Big Red kept their playoff hopes intact with an 8-4 District 32-6A record.
Harlingen entered Tuesday’s game missing three of its senior starters to injury in Matthew Sesler, Jeremy Vasquez and Rene Castillo. The Cards managed to get a strong 16-point performance from Diego Bazaldue and Kameryn Gonzalez finished in double figures with 10 points.
The Cards won each quarter and pulled away early in the second quarter leading 29-14. In the third period, Harlingen’s defense clamped down and yielded just eight points.
With the win, Harlingen remains tied with Harlingen South and Weslaco, which all won on Tuesday and have 8-4 records.
Up next is the Bird Bowl on Friday at South. The contest has major playoff implications with just one game remaining afterward.
“We approach every game with a winning mentality because everyone in this district is in control of their own destiny,” said Harlingen head coach Greg Yates. “We don’t have to worry about anyone else. We just worry about ourselves and getting better.”
Sauceda makes season debut: On Sept. 15, Harlingen senior Riley Sauceda went down with a season-ending injury during football season against San Antonio Reagan.
He suffered a knee injury and missed the remainder of the football season. Four months later, Sauceda made his basketball debut and got a warm welcome from the Cardinal faithful.
“I had been waiting to see when I could come back. The coaches wanted me to get a few minutes tonight to see how I would do,” Sauceda said after Friday’s game. “I feel great and I feel healthy. To see the crowd and my teammates support me the way they did means a lot.”
Sauceda’s original recovery was set for six months to a year, but that didn’t slow down Sauceda as he worked twice as hard to get back on the court.
“It was great to see Riley back. He has gone through a lot,” Yates said. “He busted his tail to get back. I told him we would be able to use him if he was able to defend and do something for us. I’m happy for him.”