Could this be the year that three city teams make it to the basketball playoffs? Or how about all six? It is possible, theoretically, because all of the teams, girls and boys, have the opportunity, mathematically. And they might just have the talent to pull it off, too.
Starting with the boys’ squads, once again it looks like Edinburg is going to make a run for 31-5A the title, which would be its fourth in a row.
The Bobcats were 8-4 heading into the last tournament stretch, having won five of six since a slightly shaky early roll. The team has notched at least 70 points five times to lead the area in scoring, and there is some serious talent beginning to blossom. After a blowout win against a salty Sharyland team, the Bobcats have served notice that they’re set to pounce for league play.
As for Econ, the Jags started hot at 5-2, hit a rough patch, but still stand 9-7 right now. Considering they won four times total in 2008-09, this is pretty tall cotton already for the Orange. A sophomore explosion paced by 6-foot-2 John Barrientes has done wonders for morale on the East Side, as Lalo Rios’ kids have been in every game, including a 1-point loss to Lyford in the C.E. Vail Tourney Friday.
Barrientes is a skilled player at age 15, with good hands, long legs, and a nose for the basket. He’s averaging 18 points per game with five 20-point outings so far, including 29 against Juarez-Lincoln and 18 on Sharyland.
North (6-7) has shown potential and is still integrating several football players into the rotation, with Manny Garcia and Juan Ramirez beginning to play prominent roles. This year, Rudy Garcia’s got a young bunch with some size inside and plenty of depth. He says that the next few weeks will be a proving ground for a number of role players, as the Cougars look to winnow the rotation down to the best eight or nine.
Right now, pencil EHS in with both Econ and North having a good shot at a spot in the postseason. As for the district, Harlingen looks strong at 11-3 while perennial contenders Pharr North (7-8) and Harlingen South (8-11) have had their problems. P-SJ-A and P-SJ-A Memorial have to be considered longshots for the playoffs, meaning that getting three city teams into the mix is a distinct possibility.
All three teams have winning marks this far, with EHS scoring at a healthy clip and getting solid defense as always. The Lady Bobcats pounded Harlingen by 20 in the 31-5A opener for a strong statement and a 2-0 start.
North headed into a big game Monday at Hidalgo with confidence after an 11-6 start. Coach Jenny Gaytan said the Lady Coogs have had a tendency to start games slowly this year, but that they’ve been dynamite down the stretch. Most of the losses have come to upstate teams, and with the Jostens Classic on tap between Christmas and New Year’s, North goes in as one of the better units in the Valley so far. They have four kids in double figures and a developing bench squad, so have to be looked at as a favorite to win one of the playoff spots. To begin league play, the Lady Coogs have beaten Harlingen and P-SJ-A, two of the teams they will battle with all season for postseason rights.
Econ (11-8) has carved out some solid wins with defense and patient play, although scoring has been an issue lately. After averaging around 55 points a game in the first part of the schedule, the Lady Jags have cooled off somewhat. They defeated Pharr North in the 31-5A kickoff, and then lost to Harlingen South.
District-wise, South is the odds-on fave, with EHS and North right behind. P-SJ-A enjoyed a super start but has come back to earth somewhat, while Pharr North has been riddled with injuries and P-SJ-A Memorial is rebuilding. The wild card is Harlingen, which looked sharp early but is off to a 0-2 league start.
To repeat, if things go smoothly and according to plan, do not be surprised to see anywhere from four to all six city contingents in the playoffs before it’s all said and done.