By CLAIRE CRUZ
Special to the Herald
Los Fresnos may have been playing on a court on which its own colors abound, but there was no doubt Weslaco High was the home team Monday night in La Feria.
Supporters of the purple and white came out in waves for the bi-district playoff game and were rewarded with a scrappy 38-34 Lady Panthers victory to keep the season alive.
“Hats off to Los Fresnos, they did a heck of a job, they were very well-prepared,” Weslaco High coach Griselda Fino said. “But my kids stepped up in the second half and … that was the difference in the game.”
The Lady Panthers were in control through the opening quarter, but then Los Fresnos senior Jovanna Adame and junior Ariadna Gallardo found their groove. The pair spearheaded a 16-point second quarter — highlighted by an eight-point scoring run that started and finished with 3-pointers made by Adame then Gallardo, respectively — to give the Lady Falcons a 24-20 lead at halftime.
In the Weslaco High locker room, coach Griselda Fino was very clear with her message. She wanted her team to rely on the defense that had carried it this far. The Lady Panthers responded flawlessly.
Los Fresnos was held scoreless for the first five and a half minutes of the third and recorded just two points in the quarter. Weslaco High didn’t let up one bit during the final eight minutes, keeping the Lady Falcons’ offense stagnant and rarely allowing it to get the ball inside the paint.
Adame and Gallardo couldn’t find the magic they had to close out the second quarter, and without their spark Los Fresnos’ offense went cold.
“We had a big task tonight stopping (Gallardo), and my little (Jazmin Saenz) did a heck of a job, poor thing was over here with her asthma pump every chance she got,” Fino said.
On the other hand, Weslaco High senior La Kysha Saldivar put together a superb second half to carry her team to the area round. She scored 12 of Weslaco High’s 18 second-half points and was the key to the Lady Panthers’ defensive charge that proved to be the difference in the game.
Saldivar and company completely dominated the boards and ultimately played a more disciplined game to advance to the second round.
“I felt amazing out there, as a senior I have to be a leader, and that’s what it took today,” Saldivar said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about who wants it more, and I felt like we wanted it more and it showed.”