It was going to be big medicine when North travels to Econ Tuesday night, with both teams coming off recent streaks and hoping to beat the other for a leg up in the District 31-5A race.
The Jags saw a three-game win streak come to an end Friday against Harlingen South, but with rugged rebounders Ricky Cantu and John Barrientes inside, Econ (3-4) has played well lately. North (3-4 also) snapped a four-game losing slide Friday with a fine double-overtime victory against P-SJ-A, as Jared Weems came through with a floater in the lane with three seconds left.
When these two met in round one, the Jags copped a double-digit lead before faltering badly as the Coogs dominated the second half down low. Michael Perez is the man in the spotlight for North, as he goes against the inside tandem of Cantu and Barrientes, who collect an average of 19 caroms a night.
With EHS, Harlingen and Harlingen South in the 1-2-3 spots coming out of the weekend, itís up to one of the other two city schools to make a statement this week.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, handled Harlingen at home Friday, getting strong games from Stevie Guerrero and Steve Trevino in a 71-57 win. The game was tough all the way, as the Cards (6-1) led by one at the end of three. But clutch shooting from Trevino (14 points) and some late heroics from Aaron Olvera made sure that the team stayed unbeaten in league play through the first half.
Edinburg put 11 in a row up on the board to start the fourth and cruised to the victory, with Guerrero leading the way with 17 points and eight rebounds before fouling out late.
LADY COOGS SET FOR REMATCH WITH LADY JAGS
The North-Econ match on the girlsí side of the doubleheader (girls first this half, boys to follow) was going to be a lesser draw, as the Lady Jags (2-7) have sagged into the lower reaches of the standings. North meanwhile enjoyed a very fruitful week with key wins over Harlingen and P-SJ-A, opening up some breathing room between itself and those two contenders who were shadowing hard from behind.
The Lady Coogs (7-2) defeated the Lady Cards 52-44 and then the Lady Bears 45-43. In the first win, Vicky Pena scored 17 points and the team defense was superb. In the latter, the unit rallied from 11 back to nip the Lady Bears with an 18-7 fourth, Pena ending with 24. The exciting sophomore now leads the team in scoring for nine league games (2.3 ppg) with senior Brandy Garcia close behind (11.4).
Last time these two teams met Econ hung tough in a slow-paced slugout, but North surged in the latter stages for a 33-26 win. With the Lady Jags out of the race, it falls to them to play spoiler as North is one game back of EHS and two behind unblemished loop queen South (9-0).
Speaking of EHS means speaking of Laura Torres these days. The hard-nosed junior has scored 91 points the last three games, as the team tries to rebound from the disheartening loss of senior post Anaka Garcia, whose broken foot has ended her high school career.
After a 41-point explosion against P-SJ-A Memorial Tuesday, Torres followed that up with 26 points and nine boards in a 51-45 win at home versus Harlingen.
The Lady Bobcats (8-1) led early 15-8, trailed at the half (28-23) after a solid Lady Card run, but got it together well enough to take out Harlingen for the third time in four meetings between the rivals this year. Bianca Casas had 11 against Harlingen and was particularly effective as the group quickly cut into the halftime margin, tying things at 30 to set the stage for a dominant second half.
For the league season Torres now averages 18.6 points per game. Steph Nunez was strong against PM with four three-pointers, while freshman Mercelita Michellin came up with a nice first half against Harlingen to somewhat compensate for the loss of Garcia, who was getting 12 points and 11 rebounds a night before her injury.