DONNA — Harlingen High coach Ashley Moncivaiz’s teams like to send a message to their opponents.
The first of several statements the Lady Cardinals made with their play on the court Monday night at Donna North was as follows: If you’re going to cross halfcourt with the ball safely in your hands, you’re going to have to work for it.
As it happened, the Lady Chiefs didn’t leave their end of the court until the 6:18 mark of the first quarter, turning the ball over on each of their first four possessions as Harlingen High eased to a 68-15 bi-district playoff victory.
The Lady Cardinals opened the game on a 10-0 run and never looked back.
“We wanted to make sure we set the tone with defense,” Moncivaiz said. “A lot of times people want to set the tone with offense, but for us you’ve got to set the tone with defense and let our offense go from there.”
Eleny Cavazos’ second free-throw attempt with 4:52 in the first period was Donna North’s first point of the game.
The Lady Cardinals led 21-8 after the first quarter and went on to outscore Donna High 24-0 in the second quarter.
Despite the absence of the injured Alexus Coto, Harlingen High didn’t miss a beat offensively.
Avery Hinojosa scored 10 points during the first half and made two 3-pointers, the second of which was one of four total from Harlingen High in their second-quarter scoring barrage. She was one of three Lady Cardinals to reach double figures, along with Portillo (11 points) and Emery Scoogins (10 points).
Freshman Rosa Zapata had nine points for Harlingen High, and junior Callie Cervantes added seven points.
“We’ve always said that we don’t want to depend on one or two people,” Moncivaiz said. “We want to make sure our team has enough people to contribute on the court.”
Scoogins was fouled hard and knocked down as she drilled a corner 3 with 3.5 seconds left to give Harlingen High a 45-8 lead at the break. Her third trey of the game came with 6:36 remaining in the fourth quarter and gave the Lady Cardinals a 51-point advantage.
“When I hit that 3, I just felt the rush and the adrenaline,” Scoogins said. “Once I hit that, I felt like everything else was going in. Everyone else on the team was feeling it, so we just kept on pushing (the pace) and feeling good. It feels like when we’re playing together, there’s no one in the gym, we’re just having fun and playing our game.”
Harlingen High managed to limit the Lady Chiefs to just seven points during the second half.
Donna North’s first points since the first quarter came on a free throw by Jennifer Vargas with 5:01 to play in the third quarter. Harlingen High led 56-11 at the end of the period.
Senior Briana Palomares had seven points, and Gabriela Aviles posted four points to lead the Lady Chiefs.
In the area round, the Lady Cardinals are set to face Laredo United South, which defeated La Joya High 63-36 on Monday.