The annual Craig Smith tourney ended up without a city team in the final, but the defending champ Edinburg Bobcats did manage to make the third-place game, losing a close one to Victoria East by two.
Alexander defeated United South in an all-western final Saturday. Econ (9-2) beat North (6-4) Saturday by three, meaning that when District 31-5A play begins, all three Edinburg teams are going to be neck and neck for playoff contention. The Jags scored their second win this year against the Coogs, who are expected to take last year's playoff trio and build for more.
The Bobcats (4-4) avenged an earlier loss to Laredo Nixon in the tourney and led East at the half Saturday before running out of gas. A key turnover with 18 seconds left kept the ‘Cats from working for the last shot. Gabe Rivas had a big game inside for EHS.
For the Smith opener the Bobcats raced past Juarez-Lincoln 70-48 with a big first half from the posts. Rivas and Noe Espericueta combined for 25 points in the half, one more than the entire Huskie team managed.
After leading by three at the end of one quarter, Edinburg continued a good defensive effort and started to pull away. Espericueta was in the middle of all positive things, from blocks and steals to turnaround jumpers and the occasional crisp pass. Few big men in the Valley can run the floor like he can; if Big Noe stays focused and under control, he will have a banner season.
Rivas was dominant for stretches Thursday and ended with 22 points and 12 rebounds (Espericueta getting 16 and 10). He looked very quick despite playing versus a smaller frontline and his shot-blocking has vastly improved. For a 6-4 kid, Rivas can really pass the basketball.
With the Twin Towers playing well, all the Bobcats need is a passable night out of the guards to cement their chances at a W. Right now Matt Garza is at the 2 (though he was injured in the tourney) with Milo Trejo running the point; those two combined for 14 against the Huskies.
With a super 24-7 second period the ‘Cats put it away and let the reserves play much of the second half. Ten bench players in all saw action as EHS took a 17-point halftime lead and a 26-point bulge after three.
Before the EHS win, the Jags of Econ got it in with Donna, blasting the Redskins by 20, led by J.J. Velasquez' 20-point night and 11 from Ricky Cantu. North did not play Thursday, instead starting the action Friday with a victory over Valley View before losing to East and the Jags.
The Coogs travel to McAllen Tuesday to battle a pretty solid Memorial team that is 5-3 this year.