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20111125-Boys-Basketball_dy-090It is often said that basketball is the roughest non-contact sport there is. You’d be hard-pressed to disagree if you happened to witness the 32-minute scrum in La Joya between the Coyotes and the Edinburg Bobcats Tuesday night.

When the dust had settled and the bodies had picked themselves off the floor for the last time it was Edinburg that came out on top 68-63.

The game began sloppy. Both Edinburg and La Joya fumbled at passes, double-dribbling and fouling their way up and down the court. La Joya’s Alex Alaniz early on seemed to be the only player on the court who could find the net as he put the Coyotes first and last points on the board with mid-range jumpers. At the end of the first quarter, La Joya found themselves ahead by four with a score of 9-13.

The Coyotes seemed intent on not giving up their slim margin as they came out in the second quarter in a full court press that frustrated the Bobcats. However, the frantic press seemed to also inadvertently make the Coyotes manic on offense as well.

La Joya’s Victor Contreras began the quarter by draining a three-pointer and a turnover by the Bobcats on the subsequent possession seemed to signal an unraveling by Edinburg. But Andrew Diaz’ darting penetration into the paint resulted in a few easy scores and smoothed out his teammates frazzled nerves. Edinburg’s Noe Espericueta put two in after a steal then drove the lane with a pretty finger-role that found the bottom of the net. Espericueta also found himself at the free-throw line. La Joya spark-plug, their diminutive point-guard Johnny Hinojosa answered with a drive of his own followed by a three-point play after being absolutely laid-out on his way to basket. The quarter ended when Coyote shooter, Pablo Tovar, hit a three then a two-point jumper after a defensive stop pushing the Coyotes ahead 28-31.

It was in the third quarter that things began to get ugly. Loose ball fouls and falling rebounds peppered a quarter that saw both teams going to the floor and the charity stripe more and more frequently. It was also in the third quarter that Edinburg’s size began to pay off as Espericueta sacrificed his body in the paint for rebounds and easy put-backs off of misses. The quarter ended on somewhat graceful note, however, as the two teams traded three consecutive three-pointers. La Joya’s Josh Lopez stroked one through the net with less than a minute to go in the quarter, but Edinburg’s Nick Micallef answered. Before the bell could sound though, Hinojosa had an answer of his own as he worked off a screen to pop a three-pointer with no time left in the quarter.

20111125-Boys-Basketball_dy-083The damage, for the Coyotes, had been done. The Bobcats entered the fourth quarter with a 48-44, four point lead they would not surrender.

Edinburg’s other big body, Gabriel Rivas, put his stamp on the game as the fourth quarter began. In subsequent possessions Rivas collected a pass in the paint and banked it in for two, hit a spinning bank shot just under the basket and dropped another one home also deep in the paint. La Joya began to tighten up, making costly unforced errors. Their missed passes and miscommunication started to catch up with them as the game began to devolve.

As both teams pushed and angled for position and possession, the officials tried to reign both teams in. The crowd grew impatient with the ever-increasing stoppages of play and the refs began to take just as much of a beating as the players. Mid-way through the fourth quarter, one official called for security to make their way into the building.

As it turned out, tempers never boiled over. Unfortunately for the Coyotes, they never got over the hump. After a made jumper and a steal resulting in a basket, La Joya’s Mario Tamez had brought his team within three at 62-59. But the Bobcats kept getting easy baskets down low as the Coyotes porous interior defense was exposed late in the game. By the time Tamez knocked down two jumpers in a row, it was too late. The Bobcats were able to run out the final 10 seconds and escape with a not-quite painless 68-63 win.

The loss marks the second in a row for La Joya who dropped another close one Saturday against San Benito 68-62. Their next game will be in Mission on Friday at the Mission Thanksgiving Tournament.

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