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MISSION – The Lady Patriots of Veterans Memorial are on a roll seven games into their District 32-4A season. Since losing to district leader Hidalgo exactly one month ago, Ralph Cantu’s team has reeled off six straight and seem to be on a collision course with the Lady Pirates in a couple of weeks. However, before those teams meet again, Veterans has three opponents standing in their way. One of those is tonight’s game with Weslaco East.

“It’s always tough with Weslaco East,” Cantu said. “They are going to raise their game and their level [of play]. They are well coached.”

The Lady Wildcats, with a 5-3 district record, currently sit fourth in the district standings. A win over Veterans Memorial (18-9, 7-1) would help close the gap between the two teams. East took home the district championship just two seasons ago and Vets is keenly aware they will have to play well to come out as victor.

“We have got to be ready to play,” Cantu explained.

Interestingly, the two teams already met in an out-of-district matchup. That game was won by Cantu’s team by eight points.

“It was a very competitive game and physical,” Cantu said of the team’s first matchup. “It was close until the end.”

Since that time, Cantu also notes, the team has changed for the better, especially as it pertains to team chemistry. This group of girls consists of experienced upperclassmen. Led in scoring by guards Kassy Lopez and Briana Casas, the squad’s strength resides in their backcourt. Lopez dropped 25 points in her team’s win over Roma last Saturday and Briana has proven to be a valuable scorer ever since her freshman year when she first started playing Varsity. However, according to Cantu, the team has been pleased to see the rise of a viable postgame in the play of Christina Anguiano, Lily Rocha and Katelyn Garza.

“Lily and Kate have really raised their level [of play],” Garza said.

Tonight Cantu will be relying on all of his players to step up.

Game starts at 6 p.m.

Big Six Friday Night Lineup: Girls

Mission at McHi: The Lady Eagles (14-5, 3-1) have a great chance to prove to the rest of the district that their great start is no fluke. Of course that test isn’t easy as all they have to do is take down another one-loss team in the Lady Bulldogs. Carolee Lopez will need to play well.

Sharyland at Palmview: The Lady Lobos (0-4) have yet to win a district game while Sharyland (13-9, 3-1) is one of the district’s favorites. Despite that, it will not be easy for the Lady Rattlers as they are on the road. Gabriella Rodriguez is coming off a 18-point performance against La Joya on Tuesday and will battle well down low against Laura Eberly.

La Joya at Memorial: It is no secret the district’s defending co-champs are struggling this year. The Lady Mustangs (2-2) are coming off another ugly loss and, unfortunately for them, the Lady Coyotes (14-7, 2-2) are looking to take advantage of that. The biggest question for La Joya is whether sophomore guard Karla Trevino is going to be able to play after having one of her teeth knocked loose after a collision in last Tuesday’s game with Palmview.

Valley View at Juarez-Lincoln: The Lady Huskies (0-8) have struggled this year but Valley View is a great opportunity to get their first district win. Maddie Alejandro scored 17 points in Juarez’s last game.

Big Six Friday Night Lineup: Boys

Weslaco East at Veterans Memorial: The Patriots (9-8, 3-3) really need to win this one after losing their last two games at the very end. Joshua Villareal will have to be one of the guys to step up.

Mission at McHi: If the rebuilding Mission Eagles (2-2) want to have any chance at turning their season around they really need a win tonight. Peter Arizpe will need to play well and some kind of an inside game needs to develop.

Sharyland at Palmview: Last Friday the Rattlers (13-10, 1-1) had to endure a tough loss to Nikki Rowe in a tough gym with a tough crowd. Tonight could be much of the same as the Lobos (2-0) are playing well, are at home and have a great hometown crowd. Sharpshooter Mario De La Garza and his team’s suffocating defense figure to be a tough matchup for the Pistokache boys. Big man John Madrigal could make a difference by providing a strong inside presence.

La Joya at Memorial: The Coyotes (1-1) suffered a tough loss to Palmview on Tuesday after leading for much of the game. Playing away will be tough as Memorial has a great old-school gym and a solid team. Quick point guard Jonny Hinojosa will need to keep his team calm and feed the ball to shooters like Victor Contreras.

Valley View at Juarez-Lincoln: The Huskies (4-2) are currently in third and a win over the Tigers will help solidify their place in the standings. Jesus Salinas will try to help out after dropping 26 points in his team’s double overtime win over Mercedes on Tuesday.

Dave Gillespie is the Sports Editor for The Progress Times. He can be reached through e-mail at
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