For one night at least, the visiting team was more popular than the Lady Broncs, as Texas A&M-Kingsville brought a pair of Valley kids home to visit Monday night.
The Javelinas sport starting inside player Victoria Gonzalez of Hidalgo and Edinburg North ex Brandy Garcia coming off the bench.
And though their team got clobbered pretty good, 90-68, the two ex stars were surrounded by friends and family after the contest. Garcia, an All-Star performer in both volleyball and basketball while at North, has seen ample playing time so far during her freshman year with the program, while Gonzalez is a sophomore.
Most of the current North squad came out to support their former teammate, holding banners and yelling Garcia’s name at intermittent junctures during the night. UTPA blasted out of the gate with a vengeance, making 7 of 11 three-pointers in the first half and shooting over 55 percent from the field. Every time Garcia got in - and she played seven minutes Monday after getting 35 in the first two Kingsville games - her coach in high school, Jenny Gaytan, was watching intently along with the Lady Coogs of 2010.
Also involved in the reunion was Harlingen South legend Bianca Torre, who was superb against the Javelinas with a game-high 27 points. The three Valley gals smiled and laughed after the game, Torre signing autographs with her Lady Bronc squad while Garcia was greeted by her father, North boys’ coach Rudy Garcia, and the rest of her support crew.
“This is amazing, I am so happy for Brandy,” said current Lady Coog scoring ace Vicky Pena, who was singled out by a Lady Bronc assistant for a quick chat about the future. Only a junior, the talented Pena might be the next member of the program to taste the fruits of college ball. In addition, senior guard Dani Vargas will surely get some attention from the scouts before this season is through.
“I don’t know, I would love to play at the next level, it’s been a dream of mine forever,” said Pena, who notched 26 points last week in a 9-point North win over Los Fresnos. “We’ll see what happens.”
Kingsville is now 0-3 while UTPA ran to 4-0 with the victory. The Lady Broncs have an infusion of junior college girls this season and have played well so far.
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It’s been a nice period for ex Edinburg athletes across the board. The word is that Bobcat grad Austin Casas is doing well so far in his attempt to join the UTPA pitching rotation, while another EHS product, Alyssa Perez, just wrapped up a successful freshman soccer season at Texas A&M-International in Laredo.
Coach Claudio Arias said that Perez, a three-sport standout in cross country, volleyball, and soccer, is a real asset to the team with her speed, attitude, and work ethic.
“She’s a little behind in terms of technical ability, but she has the athleticism to make it,” said the coach, who inserted Perez into the starting lineup midway through the year. “She has a lot ability and she just needs to adjust to the college level. “She’s just a great girl, a quiet leader out there and she has something you can’t coach, and that’s great speed.”
International lost a number of close games in what Arias said was a rebuilding year.
“We will definitely be improved a lot next year and I expect Alyssa to help us quite a bit after she works hard in the offseason,” said the Chilean mentor. “I know she will do that, because whatever we ask her to do, she does, and 100 percent. We are so glad to have her as part of our program.”
Perez, who played everywhere for the Lady Bobcats during four successful seasons under Coach Martin Gonzalez, contributed some big plays at midfield for the Dust Devils in 2010, including a game-winning goal and another that tied a game the team eventually won in extra time.