CORPUS CHRISTI — Exactly one year ago today, Harlingen High’s season ended in the area round in heartbreaking fashion against South San Antonio.
On Friday night, the Lady Cardinals exercised their demons.
Seniors Andrea Cortez and Taegan Dickey provided the spark during the final minutes, and Dickey laid in the go-ahead bucket to give Harlingen High a 57-55 win over Laredo Alexander in the Class 6A area round playoffs at Corpus Christi Carroll.
“It was something we talked about, and we did not want the same thing to happen this year,” Harlingen High coach Ashley Moncivaiz said. “We pushed all season long to be ready for this moment.”
Dickey scored a team-high 17 points, Alyssa Cervantes finished with 10 and Ariel Leal netted nine for the Lady Cards. Harlingen High next meets Edinburg High, with the time and place to be decided.
“I think what made a difference was our schedule and how we pushed all year long,” Moncivaiz said. “The bottom line is, you always have to be pushing your conditioning. Down the stretch we had girls play right through.”
All night, Laredo Alexander and Harlingen High exchanged leads. Each team led by as much as five during the contest. The Lady Bulldogs entered the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run and held a 47-42 lead.
Cortez came up big in the final minutes, tying the game at 53 and then, after a steal, dishing the ball to Bianca Rodriguez, who gave the Lady Cards a 55-53 lead.
“(Andrea) came out of nowhere,” Moncivaiz said. “It was her turn to step up and help the team. She went out there and did what she needed to do, and she became more aggressive.”
Cortez, the team’s defensive specialist, credited the Lady Cards’ defensive effort and toughness down the stretch.
“Coach told us we had six minutes left. Us seniors didn’t want this to be over,” Cortez said. “Defensively, we had to bring it, and I thought we played tough defense. For us to make it back to the third round since my freshman year is very special.”
Harlingen High is back in the third round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
“I’m really just all over the place right now,” Dickey said. “I’m so proud of my team and what we were able to do tonight. We were down in the fourth quarter and us sen