PHARR — With all the talk about EHS and North so far this season, folks might not be thinking much about the Lady Jags. But after a narrow win on the road Tuesday against Pharr North, Econ raised its record to 10-7, showing some potential to become a factor in the 31-5A race.
The Lady Jags got a season-high 22 points from hustling senior Mariah Galvan and some outstanding defensive play to beat back the Lady Raiders, 51-48, beginning the league slate with a hard-fought W. Galvan, who came in averaging 7.6, was active early, and took six steals to go with her fine offensive night. Classmate Michelle Leija clamped down on super soph Branda Borrego, holding her scoreless in the second half, and the Lady Jags squeezed one out.
It marked only the fourth time in 17 games that Coach Kelly Garrett’s club had surpassed the 50-point mark on the year, as Econ came in scoring 39.9 per game, but allowing just 39.3. North had three girls foul out in the second half and the Lady Jags took advantage, turning a 7-point deficit at the end of three into a victory with a 16-6 run in the fourth.
Senior Daniella Galvan had six points in the final period and ended with 13 rebounds as the inside group closed off the boards, something it hadn’t done to that stage.
“They did a good job, for the most part,” said Garrett, whose team came in to the 31-5A opener with recent wins against P-SJ-A Memorial and Juarez-Lincoln. “They stuck it out when they could have folded and that says something about the senor group, they’ve been playing together for four years and it shows.”
North, minus leading scorer Cassie Aleman (injured knee) put pressure on the visitor early and broke into a lead. But when senior Lory Martinez nailed a 3-pointer it gave her team a 9-7 lead late in the first.
Galvan asserted herself on defense with three steals in the second, and she also was hot at the other end, getting three quick buckets in a row for an 18-12 lead. From there, however, Econ faltered, allowing an 11-2 Lady Raider run. It took a 3-point play inside from the determined Leija (11 per game so far to lead the team) to even things at the half, 23-all. She had nine points and seven boards, and Garrett said that Leija has been a pleasant surprise so far in 2009-10.
“She came up from the JV, and she wanted to have a big senior year,” said the coach of Leija, who has been in double figures four times, including 20 against Santa Rosa, 19 against Progreso, and 18 versus Edcouch-Elsa. “Michelle is the fastest kid we have on the team this year.”
As it had done to start the first, North came on strong in the third, pounding the offensive boards and getting to the line. The Lady Raiders took 23 free throws in the first three quarters and if they’d made more than 10, could have built a double-digit lead. As it was, they could not find the net, and Econ seized the opportunity to climb back in.
The Orange got to within four at 42-38 after Yvette Garza knocked down a three on a smart giveback pass from Leija. Gaitan converted a money stickback and Econ turned up the defense against some inexperienced backup guards. Martinez had a huge steal and fed a cutting Galvan - the latter moves well without the ball and is an aggressive player who excels in transition - and Gaitan put her team in front with a layup, 49-48 with 1:44 to go.
Econ closed out the late rush after having been down 42-35, Martinez forcing a tie-up with eight seconds left to win possession.
Galvan’s past high game was 21 against Santa Rosa, and she also had 18 against Porter. Tuesday she was the player of the game, refusing to lose by taking turnovers and turning them into points.
“Mariah is smart, she really knows the game and where to be,” Garrett said.