MISSION - Though they struggled with the flu bug over the weekend, the Edinburg Bobcats gutted out a third-place finish at the Diamondback Classic at Sharyland, beating the host Rattlers 71-63 Saturday night to improve their record to 7-4.
Star Chris Flores was among the many team members under the weather as the ‘Cats won in the first round against Edcouch-Elsa but got blasted by eventual tourney champ Weslaco in the second round Friday.
Edinburg rebounded to defeat Sharyland for third, avenging a semi-final loss to the Rattlers at the Craig Smith Tourney two weeks back. Flores, who scored 10 in the third-place game Saturday, 12 below his average, made four free throws down the stretch, and sophomore Phillip De La Rosa canned a pair as Coach Zeke Cuellar’s team held off the Rattlers.
Cuellar, himself less than 100 percent for the tourney, said that his young group is coming around little by little, and that sophomore guard Aaron Olvera, who made the All-Tournament team with 46 points in the final two contests, has played well lately.
“We have a lot of sophomore kids who are contributing,” said Cuellar, whose turned around Monday for yet another match against Sharyland. “It’s going to take us awhile to find the right combinations, but we’ll get there.”
Joining Olvera as 10th-graders who are making a stir alongside seniors Flores and Jaime Acuna: De la Rosa, younger brother of former Bobcat stars Rallie and Noe De la Rosa, and Cord Arriola, whose older bro, Estevan, led the program in scoring last year as a senior and was an All-Valley choice.
Big soph Marquis Holiday, forced into action with posts Derrick East and Julius Flores sidelined with sickness, did solid work down low in the tournament, scoring 22 points and exhibiting some promising hustle. Look for more of him this season.
When Acuna and Olvera forced a turnover with Acuna converting at the other end, it was EHS with a 64-53 lead over Shary Saturday. But the pesky Rattlers, who had come from 14 down to defeat the ‘Cats in OT at the Smith, rallied, and closed the gap.
Flores uncharacteristically missed five free throws in a row to give Shary a chance, and Rattler ace Angel Ibanez knocked down a pair of freebies to make it 65-63.
That’s when Flores came up money with two charity tosses, and at the other end, Ibanez was called for a clearout to end the scare.
NOTES: Edinburg North won its opening game at the tourney over Hidalgo but dropped into the consolation bracket with a second-round loss to Harlingen South, which made it to the finals before being stopped by Weslaco, 56-43. Economedes is in a rough patch right now after a 1-3 tournament showing put the Jags at 3-10 for the season.