By CLAIRE CRUZ, SPECIAL TO THE STAR
The final score of Tuesday night’s contest between Edinburg and Harlingen High reflects a tale of two halves.
Though the Lady Bobcats won 59-50 and dominated the first half behind their up-tempo offense, the Lady Cardinals outscored Edinburg in the second half to make the game tight in the final minutes. But the seasoned Lady Bobcats roster found a way to answer every time Harlingen High went on a run and sharpshooting junior A’nnika Saenz was clutch down the stretch to put the game on ice.
“Harlingen is a very respectful program… so to come over here it’s always difficult,” Edinburg head coach JD Salinas said. “Basketball is a game of runs; we knew Harlingen was due for and sure enough they were there at the end. But I’m proud of my girls for pulling through in this game.”
Edinburg opened up a double-digit lead before Harlingen scored its first points midway through the first quarter. Saenz and junior guard Daysha Tijerina sparked the highscoring first half by hitting two three-pointers each.
Harlingen’s defense was subpar for the first two quarters, allowing the
Lady Bobcats to convert several shots by simply beating Harlingen down the court on inbound plays. But the young squad did show splashes of potential. Freshmen guard Rosa Zapata and post Juli Bryant led the offense with aggressive drives and strong moves against bigger defenders in the paint.
The Lady Cardinals showed their tenacity in the second half and played a more confident, fastpaced game. They kept subbing in fresh legs and that helped Harlingen’s defense force some bad shots by Edinburg and contributed to more players making an impact offensively.
“We started a little slow, so we needed to pick up the intensity and that’s one thing we talked about at halftime,” Harlingen head coach Ashley Moncivaiz said. “We had four freshmen out there and they were actually competing. Once we get the experience we’ll get better.”
Harlingen got its first swing of momentum in the fourth quarter. Junior Alexus Coto and sophomore Emery Scoggins hit back-to-back three-pointers to cut the lead to single digits for the first time since they trailed 11-2 four minutes into the first.
The Lady Cardinals were attacking more offensively and pressing well on defense, but Edinburg managed to answer every score and control the clock in the closing minutes to open its season with a win.
“We hit shots when we needed to, we did great at the free-throw line, and we’re going to take this win and get ready for this weekend’s tournament,” Salinas said. “We’re excited about where we’re headed.”