All it took was a little R-and-R for the Runnin’ Bobcats to get back onto the winning track last week.
Edinburg defeated Weslaco soundly Tuesday afternoon, racing to 13-1 with a 70-56 victory at home. It marked the second time the team has beaten the Panthers after having suffered two losses to Gabe Valdez’ club in 2009-10. It also gave the squad a measure of satisfaction after a loss to Sharyland ended a 13-game winning streak to start the season.
“We played eight games in two weeks and I think we were a little burned out heading into the second Sharyland game,” said Coach Zeke Cuellar, whose club got 18 points apiece from Stevie Guerrero and Aaron Olvera Tuesday. “It helped us out to get some time off, to re-energize. And tonight, we played really well.”
After having beaten Shary in the finals of the Diamondback Classic, the Bobcats traveled to Mission two days later and suffered an upset. But against Weslaco, they were sharp from the opening tap and dominated the Panthers in every phase of the game.
“We played real well together, we passed the ball and our ball movement was great,” said Cuellar, whose team played at Calallen Christmas Classic during the break. “We didn’t force anything, we played within ourselves and we took good shots. You have to do that, not settle for just any shots, they have to come in the flow of the offense and tonight we were able to be good at that. And being rested helped us to what we wanted to do.”
A quick early surge put the ‘Cats in control, as Olvera made one of two free throws them got a steal and basket. After another steal, the ‘Cats got a three-pointer from Guerrero to cap a sequence that showed what a few days of downtime will do.
Guerrero chased a loose ball, saved it, and crashed into the scorer’s table, knocking the scoreboard out of order. He came back inbounds and eventually ended the possession with a three-ball from the corner and a 16-8 EHS lead.
“Right there, that one minute seemed to set the tone for us,” Cuellar said. “We hustled a lot and everyone who came in was contributing. We need to keep that sort of effort up and we will be ready for district play.”
The rest of the first period was all Bobcats, with expert passing and rotation on the floor. Guerrero had eight in the opening period with Olvera adding seven, and when Guerrero nailed another trifecta from the corner it was 21-10 at the end of one.
Cord Arriola (15 points) went off for seven in the second as the home side stretched the advantage to 18 at the half, 42-24, and that was all she wrote, with the Big Three combining for 51 of the 70 points. Senior Phillip de la Rosa added five and keyed the defensive barrage that limited second shots and kept an eye on Weslaco star Raul Garcia, who managed just 10 points.
The Bobcats hit 70 points for the eighth time this season and are now getting 68 per game. Guerrero led the way with nine rebounds and Olvera had eight. The latter is getting 17 points per game, down from his average of 22 as a junior, but he is just as effective.
“Aaron draws a lot of attention with the ball, and he is good at finding the open man,” Cuellar noted. “He is very valuable in that regard, and he knows that he doesn’t have to score to make a big contribution.”
Former Bobcat star Estevan Arriola was supposed to be in attendance, but he missed the plane from East Texas and arrived too late. He did manage to see his sister in the nightcap, however. Larissa Arriola and the North Lady Coogs defeated EHS later in the day Tuesday.
Arriola is in his sophomore season for Texas A&M-Commerce and has gotten some time this season so far. He said that even though college basketball is “all about business,” he is enjoying the experience.
“You gotta play every night because everyone is so good,” said the smooth guard who was an All-Valley pick three years ago. “The talent level is so much higher, everyone was the star of their high school team. It’s pretty tough, but my coach says that I might be figuring in the team’s plans as a junior or senior.”
Making the transition from high school to college has been easier for Arriola than for most. At EHS he learned all about patience and preparation.
“When I got hurt as an underclassmen and sat out a season it taught me to hang in there and work hard, to accept when it wasn’t going my way,” he said, as he watched the girls’ game flanked by former coaches Cuellar and current city AD Joe Filoteo. “Plus, I had some experience with AAU ball in high school, and doing that showed me that if you want to make it to the next level, you have to dedicate, to do everything in your power to make it.”
A&M-Commerce is 7-3 on the year and Arriola has appeared in six games, logging 33 minutes so far.