Back at full health, Cardinals blow past Cougars for bi-district title

EDINBURG — For the first time in more than a month, the Harlingen Cardinals were back at full strength and it showed in a 66-48 drumming of Edinburg North in a Class 6A bi-district playoff game Tuesday night.

The Cardinals will now face McAllen Memorial in the area round of the postseason later this week.

Big Red welcomed back seniors Jeremy Vasquez and Rene Castillo, who had both been sidelined with injuries. Vasquez contributed with eight points.

“It felt good to come back,” Vasquez said. “I feel like I didn’t miss a beat. Once I was cleared, I was ready to go, and ready to get back on the court and help my team. As a senior, this is special because I hadn’t played in a playoff game until tonight and winning a playoff game is special with this team.”

The Cards used their size and length to their advantage. Big man Matthew Sesler scored a team high 16 points while Michael Arellano directed traffic and weaved his way through the Cougar defense and walked away with 13 points.

The Cardinals didn’t waste any time by starting off on an 11-3 run and pushed their lead to 19-11 off a Kamreyn Gonzalez 3 ball. Harlingen outscored the Cougars 22-10 in the second period and held a comfortable 36-18 lead at the break.

“The kids did well and it was nice to have a full team; we hadn’t had that in awhile,” said Cardinals coach Greg Yates. “Jeremy and Rene came off the bench for us and it added some power to our team. Michael does his thing; he plays very well on both offense and defense and he makes us go, there’s no doubt about that.”

In the fourth quarter, the Cardinals’ defense clamped down and yielded just 11 points.

Now for the third time this season, Harlingen will play McAllen Memorial with both teams splitting the season series one game each.

“They’re a tough team,” Vasquez said of Memorial. “It’s going to be a challenge for us, but we need to play together and as a team, the way we did tonight.”