Don't try looking for seniors on the roster this year, because there's only one. Truly, this a brand-new EHS Lady Bobcat group, and as it kicked off the latest season Tuesday, the new-look squad showed all the growing pains of inexperience, plus some signs that the talent may once again be there to make yet another run to glory.
EHS pulled to within six of visiting Laredo Alexander early in the third with freshman guard Ariel Rodriguez making a perfect lob inside to Micheline Mercelita for a short deuce in traffic. But from there, the Lady Bulldogs thundered out to a 19-3 run that put the opener away, 62-48. In better condition, passing the ball wonderfully, and enjoying the all-around brilliance of All-Star Jessica Prieto, Alexander waxed the young Lady Bobcats, avenging last year's third-round playoff loss at the hands of EHS.
This was a stern tough test for Edinburg, which won 30 times last season and advance do the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row. Alexander has a great returning nucleus and is expected to go deep this posteason.
The Lady ‘Cats are dealing with major graduation losses, as Merceilta the only returning regular. Coach Rachel Carmona says the team is "young, young, young...but we have the potential. This is a different group we have now, they are great listeners and they have been a lot of fun to work with so far."
Mercelita, the 5-11 junior, had a fine game with 16 points and 14 rebounds, and the Lady ‘Cats knocked down some threes. But they were slow defending, were beaten on the boards overall, and turned the ball over way too much to get the win. Still, they showed stretches of solid play, keeping the Lady Bulldogs in sight even though they never led.
The newcomer Rodriguez has nice quickness and can connect from long range, though in her first varsity contest she struggled to keep care of the basketball. Working with veteran guard Eileen Martinez (12 points, two threes) should help her learn the ropes; she has all the talent in the world.
Up front with the amazing Mercelita is lone senior Patty Hernandez, who was quiet Tuesday, along with hard-working Maggie Chavez, who pulled down 12 boards and scored six points.
This year's squad lacks the customary depth Carmona is used to, which means that the starters will play a ton of minutes while the new faces get used to the speed of the varsity game.
That was evident in the early going when Alexander raced out to a 14-4 lead, with Prieto (24 points, 10 assists) passing expertly and converting from all angles. Mercelita scored inside to bring the team to within four at 14-10, but Alexander led by nine at the half.
When Rodriguez fed The Big Girl down low, it was 35-31 with Edinburg looking good. But the Lady Bulldogs, moving well and exhibiting super interior passing, rolled to the big lead after that.
NOTES: EHS rebounded with a 15-point win against Edcouch Saturday, with Mercelita getting 24 points. The Lady Jags of Econ did well at the Mid-Valley Classic to kick off their season with three wins in five tries. North, whose volleyball team lost in the third round to San Benito last week, began the basketball campaign with a win against Sharyland.
And finally, the EHS girls' cross country team competed at the state meet in Austin for the second year in a row, as the city wrapped up all fall sports and began to prepare for hoops.