How good was the EHS basketball debut Tuesday at home against Laredo Martin? By the time star Laura Torres left the game for an extended break in the second half, she had 33 points, or two fewer than the entire Lady Tiger team.
The breakneck pace of Torres and her mates dispatched the Martin girls in a hurry, as the score of the game was 40-6 at one point. With mean defense, quick outlets, and onrushing charges to the hole, the Lady Bobcats began their season with a bang, finally winning 80-43.
Coming off a 28-win season that culminated in a trip to the Sweet 16, EHS served notice that it is going to be as good or better in 2001-11. Along with Torres, who had 15 points in a 30-9 first period, senior guard Bianca Casas put up nine early points. Though she is still working her way into hoops shape after coming in from volleyball, Casas is going to be one of the best point guards in the Valley.
As the Lady ‘Cats raced out to the insurmountable lead, all 10 players saw action and contributed. In the middle, sophomore Micheline Mercelita went for nine points and 11 rebounds, with four blocked shots. She continues to exhibit great quickness and leaping ability and also the knack for putting offensive rebounds back in with ease.
Her sister, athletic Mariel Mercelita, will definitely be a factor this season, as will returning veteran Mimi Tigner, who pulled down six boards against Martin and played her usual hard-nosed defense. That trio gives Coach Rachel Carmona real toughness down low, while long bomber Stephanie Nunez made three 3-pointers in the opener and appears to be more focused on joining Torres and Casas in giving 100-percent effort in terms of perimeter defense.
Carmona is excited about the new season, which continued later in the week with a trip to the Weslaco Tournament.
“This is going to be a good year, a real good year,” said the long-time coach who has more than 400 career wins. “We have 10 girls who can all play, and that is all we will carry right now on varsity. We have some big kids on the JV but for right now, we’ll go with the group we have. The only thing that worries me, as always, is injuries. We have to stay healthy.”
Carmona said that each of the returning Lady ‘Cats have stepped up some aspect of their game.
“Stephanie is being more aggressive and her shot selection has improved,” she commented about the elusive Nunez. “Mimi has improved her ballhandling a lot and she has always played well for us underneath.”
As for the new faces on the roster, spunky little Eileen Martinez is a “great kid” according to her coach, who noted that the 5-footer is getting better every say at overcoming a height disadvantage to chip in with backside rebounding.
Patricia Hernandez is set to come off the bench and give depth at the forward spot along with Margarita Chavez, who collected six rebounds and forced her way to the line with some strong moments on the block. Rounding out the second unit this season is Brisela Curiel, as the Lady Bobcats seek to get all 10 girls into the mix if possible.
This week the team will be in action at home against San Benito Tuesday and then at Laredo Alexander Friday night. Tuesday, Nov. 23 brings a home game versus Weslaco with a key early fight against powerful McAllen Memorial Saturday of that week, on the road.
EHS started the season ranked second in the Valley behind old friend North, which began the campaign with a 2-point win on the road Tuesday against a highly ranked Sharyland squad that many have picked to win District 30-5A. Dani Vargas made two threes in the late going and ended with 14 points as North trailed much of the way before surging down the stretch.
NOTES: For more on city hoops, access the Review website.