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All year long Eric Montolvo has been telling his team they have to at least win their home games to give themselves a shot for the postseason. On Friday night the Juarez-Lincoln Huskies did just that, taking down the Rio Grande City Rattlers in overtime, 80-77. Guard Jesus Salinas led his team with 30 points in the District 32-4A matchup.

“Stressful. Just stressful,” said Montolvo of his team’s win.

However, for at least the first quarter a hot shooting Huskies (5-4 district record) team looked like they were ready to run the Rattlers (2-7 district record) out of their gym, outscoring their opponent 23-11. Fifteen of those points came from behind the arc as Jesus Hernandez and Jesus Salinas combined to hit five three-pointers.

“We are a pretty good shooting team and push the ball really well,” Montolvo said of his team and their first quarter effort. The coach added that when his team gets open looks and then makes a couple, the boys’ confidence goes up and they “start shooting without thinking about it.”

Unfortunately for the second and third quarters that hot shooting didn’t carry over. Rio added an effective press that frustrated Juarez into mistakes. In fact, by the end of the third quarter the Huskies were down eight, 54-46.

Montolvo concurred, saying “[RGC] did a good job pressing us and forced some turnovers and bad decisions on our part.”

In the fourth, J-L came out more aggressive on both sides of the ball, pressing on defense and attacking the basket on offense. Specifically, Salinas came alive, getting steals and making key baskets. The guard’s old fashioned three-point play with just under seven minutes to play, cut Rio’s lead to 56-53.

Two and a half minutes later, Salinas hit a jumper just inside the arc, cutting the lead to one at 56-55. Though the Rattlers responded with a bucket of their own, Salinas answered with a corner three-pointer that unbelievably banked in and gave his team the lead.

That lead would build to five, 63-58, before Juarez began to stall. However, Rio Grande City kept crawling back slowly by hitting its free throws in the final minute and eventually tying the game and sending it to overtime.

“[The press] helped us get back into [an] aggressive mode,” Montolvo said of his team’s fourth quarter comeback.

That aggressive mode continued into the overtime, despite RGC scoring first. Salinas received some help from fellow guard Rey Basaldua who got a key steal and the fast break point to tie the score. Less than a minute later Basaldua came up big again, hitting two foul shots to move his team up three. Since a technical was called on Rio on the same play, Salinas came in and hit one of his two technical foul shots. Almost twenty seconds later German Reys scored a put back, giving his team a firm lead at 74-69. Juarez went on to ice the game with free throws.

Despite the crucial win that moves the Huskies ahead of Edcouch-Elsa after the Yellow Jackets lost to Veterans Memorial last night, Montolvo feels his team still has a lot to improve on, such as better shot selection in the closing minutes of the close game.

“We made some bad decisions there at the end that could have cost us the game. We got to learn from those situations because in the long run it’s going to hurt us.”

Juarez-Lincoln hosts Weslaco East next Tuesday.

Game MVP: Jesus Salinas. The smooth guard dropped 30 points, hitting from deep. Play of the night was Salinas’s banked in three-pointer from the corner.

Other Games-Boys

Sharyland 65 Mission 39: Shary was led by Quino Pistokache’s 15 pts. The Rattlers are now 4-1 in district and have not lost since their tough loss to Nikki Rowe two weeks ago.

La Joya at McHi: TBA

Donna at Palmview: TBA

Veterans Memorial 63 Edcouch-Elsa 48: A huge win for the Patriots. Vets was on the verge of losing five straight but Joshua Villareal, Jo Jo Martinez, hector Gandaria and A.J. Martinez as they combined to score all but four of their teams points. The Patriots will now prepare for a tough game versus Hidalgo.

Other Games-Girls

Sharyland 31 Mission 21: Led by Laura Eberly’s 12 points, the Lady Rattlers did exactly what they needed to do to keep up with McHi and Nikki Rowe. Because La Joya also lost, Mission is still only one game behind the Lady Coyotes for the fourth district spot.

La Joya 57 McHi 46: A tough loss to the Bulldogs will be followed by another tough game this next Tuesday as La Joya welcomes Sharyland to their gym.

Donna at Palmview: TBA

Veterans Memorial at Edcouch-Elsa: TBA

Juarez-Lincoln 45 Rio Grande City 29: A great win on Parent’s Night for the Lady Huskies.

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