It started well enough, as Dani Vargas hit an early three-ball and she and her teammates worked valiantly against the fullcourt pressure. North trailed just 14-8 against perennial league champ Harlingen South Saturday, and 27-18 at the half.

But the Lady Hawks steamrolled the Lady Coogs in the second half with a withering defensive performance, cruising to a 65-35 victory that resulted in North’s first loss of the season in 31-5A play. It was a disappointing game for the Lady Coogs, who imagined they could stay with the Lady Hawks all the way.

Vargas ended with 11 points to lead the team (4-1 in 31-5A, 17-10 overall) but suffered through a barrage of turnovers in the second half. They just couldn’t get the ball upcourt against the press, that was the story.

Brandy Garcia scored eight with five rebounds while Pena had eight boards, Vianey Salinas seven. But the inability to solve the D meant that North seldom got to set up in the halfcourt and exploit its size and strength on the blocks.

In that telltale third, South pulverized the home side 23-6 to take control, to run to 5-0.

North looked to rebound from the game Tuesday at Pharr North, while a Friday matchup EHS on the road loomed on the horizon.

In the boys’ portion of the Saturday doubleheader, the Coogs went down to defeat by 8, 39-31, to the South boys. They fought the whole way in a very physical, low-scoring contest, but the Hawks pulled away in the late stages.

Senior Juan Ramirez had a pair of three-pointers, one late, as Coach Rudy Garcia’s group battled. The closest they got was 31-28 after some spirited play from Manny Garcia, Ramirez, and junior Jared Weems (nine points, plus a blocked shot and defensive board down the stretch). but once again, free-throw shooting was a problem.

“We have to get better at that, and a few other little details, but we’re getting there,” said Garcia, whose team had won its first two 31-5A games before the encounter with the Hawks.

This is the week that the Coogs have been waiting for, games against the Raiders and Bobcats. They have established a 10-10 overall mark with scrappy play and stretches of real promise. How they do this week will go a long way toward setting the tone for what Garcia hopes is a run to the postseason.