January 16, 2022
(update January 18, 2022)
By Greg Selber
A truly memorable season rolled on for Vela Friday as the girls defeated La Joya, 64-31 and the boys posted an overtime triumph over the Coyotes, 90-78. The solid night of work over in eastern Hidalgo County means that each of the program’s basketball outfits remains undefeated in District 31-6A and in line for a double title in 2021-22.
For Lottie Zarate’s team, now 9-0 in district and 27-2 overall, the big quarter continued to be the penchant, as the Lady SaberCats roared to a 17-8 lead after one quarter Friday and never stopped. Sophomore Janai Coleman scored 20 points and added 15 rebounds, while junior Emma Lucio poured in 19 points for a dominant group that averages 69 points in district and allows a measly 34 per game.
In earlier district wins, Vela got out to a 25-4 lead against Edinburg North and 28-6 over Pharr North. They put a 28-8 quarter on the Lady Cougars in former same game, turning defense into offense in a hurry. The Lady Sabes have been particularly hot out of the gate this season as the following first quarter performances in non-district illustrate: 21-6 vs. Rio; 23-8 vs. Laredo Martin; 17-4 vs. San Benito; and 15-7 vs. both Weslaco and Los Fresnos.
This dangerous unit is coming close to the program records for wins in a season, 28 set in 2014-15. If the crew is to salt away the district crown, the coming week will be enormous, as Vela plays North at home Tuesday, followed by a road rematch against EHS Friday.
The Lady Bobcats rose to 9-1 Friday by clobbering Econ and they refuse to go away. EHS had six games left, four against lesser grebes and two against Vela and P-SJ-A; the latter clash comes off in the regular season finale, at home Feb. 8. Now in third, P-SJ-A, has two losses and will play Vela Jan. 25 in Edinburg.
If the Lady ‘Cats are to defend the crown, they need to beat Vela at home Friday; there is no tomorrow if they do not.
NO MABES FOR SABES
The Vela boys, meanwhile, are 8-0 in district after beating La Joya Friday, setting a season high for points in knocking off last season’s champ. The Sabes, 21-6 overall, have not lost since Dec. 9 against McAllen Memorial and have made short work of the field during the first half of league play. Besides the 12-point win at La Joya, they beat Pharr North by 11, Econ by 13, and Mission by 14, blowing out the rest. Senior Aidan Avelar followed up his 27-point night against the Jags with 24 against the Raiders, and continues to show his all-around ability, as he leads the team in rebounds from the guard position.
Tuesday’s showdown with North should be entertaining, as the Coogs are 5-1 and on a hot streak despite some recent COVID cancellations. With some makeups games surely on tap in the coming days, North has been getting some fine scoring outputs, including a 30-point eruption from sophomore Joseph Cruz against Juarez-Lincoln and big nights from Anthony Thomas (24 versus P-SJ-A) and Cristian Faz (22 against Pharr North, 20 against La Joya), while post Eddie Gonzalez is having a very consistent season, having notched double figures in scoring in each of the team’s six 31-6A contests. The first time the Coogs met Vela, Dec. 14, they were sharp early before faltering to a home loss, 64-41.
Econ and EHS have also been staggered by the COVID scourge and will have to make up some missed action. The Jags stand at 4-2 but have not played since Jan. 7. Their postponed tries against North and EHS have been tentatively reset for this week, to go with regularly planned action against P-SJ-A at home Tuesday and on the road Friday at Juarez-Lincoln.
EHS has quietly inched its way into the race at 4-3 after beating Lincoln and P-SJ-A, both in resounding fashion. Ian Garcia, the promising junior saddled with injuries this season, returned to form with 21 points and nine rebounds in the team’s 30-point blowout of the Huskies. Coach Zeke Cuellar’s group is set to play at Mission Tuesday and then get the Jags game in, Thursday.