MISSION – Since beginning District 32-4A a dismal 1-3, the Juarez-Lincoln Huskies have since won four of their last Friday. The solid run has put Juarez in a decent position to achieve their first postseason appearance ever.
Contrast that with the Veterans Memorial Patriots. Since starting district play 3-1—including a win over the Huskies—the Patriots have lost five of their last six and, unless they turn things around, are on the verge of missing the postseason for the first time in nine years.
In short, tonight’s showdown between Juarez (6-4) and Veterans (4-6) is a big game for both teams. Patriots head coach Romeo De La Garza understands his team’s back is against the wall and a win tonight is very important. Despite the fact the Huskies have never beaten Veterans.
“[Juarez has] been playing good basketball. [We] on the other hand have been playing well at times, just inconsistent.”
How important is a win tonight for De La Garza’s squad? A win would not only pull the Pats within one game of the Huskies but also give them the tiebreaker between the two teams when bi-district is determined in February.
“As I tell our guys, we control our destiny,” says De La Garza. “We got to come out swinging and take care of our business…”
The longtime coach for Vets says part of the problem in his team’s struggles is their inconsistency on the offensive end. Though guard Joshua Villarreal has shown to be one of the district’s top offensive stars, De La Garza feels his team has at least four guys who can score in double figures each night. A week ago the team got that production in their road win over Edcouch-Elsa. In addition to Villarreal, Jo Jo Martinez, Hector Gandaria and AJ Martinez all got over ten points in their team’s 63-48 win.
Juarez, on the other hand, is more than capable of scoring. Their top player is Jesus Salinas, a deadly shooter. In an overtime win a week ago over Rio Grande City, Salinas dropped 30 points on the visiting Rattlers. Teammate Juan Andrade has also proven to be capable of scoring big and teammates like Rey Basaldua have been playing well. Thus the Huskies have a variety of options.
The key, says De La Garza, is to force the Huskies into positions in which they are uncomfortable.
“We want to force those guys to put the ball on the floor and make them do things they are not comfortable doing. What we want to do is any shot they to take that we contest [it], that we limit them to one shot. Don’t allow any second and third shots.”
Tonight’s game starts at 7:30 p.m.
Donna at Mission: Neither of these teams has garnered a victory in district play. That will change after tonight.
Nikki Rowe at La Joya: The Coyotes are not out of playoff contention though their chances are getting smaller and smaller each week. La Joya has only won once in its last four games. Visitor Rowe is tied for first in district play.
Palmview at Memorial: Tuesday’s spanking of McHi was probably the basketball program’s biggest win in its short history. The Lobos were hot, played some strong defense and sent McHi and their fans home in frustration. However, a visit to Memorial against a hostile crowd will be a much harder test for the young Lobo squad. A win would be huge.
Sharyland at McHi: The Rattlers have the fortune of taking on a McHi team hoping to come back after a big loss at Palmview. Sharyland can only hope McHi’s shooting woes continue after the Bulldogs didn’t hit a shot behind the arc until the fourth quarter on Tuesday.
Juarez-Lincoln at Veterans Memorial: Tonight is a great opportunity for the Lady Patriots to recover from Tuesday’s disappointing loss at Hidalgo.
Donna at Mission: If the Lady Eagles want to keep pace with La Joya, a win tonight is a near must.
Nikki Rowe at La Joya: The Lady Coyotes pulled a road upset with a two-point victory over Sharyland on Tuesday. A win tonight would be even bigger.
Palmview at Memorial: Both of these teams have struggled mightily this season. Tonight is a great chance for the Lady Lobos to pick up their first district win.
Sharyland at McHi: A loss tonight and a win by La Joya would really shake up the playoff race. However, the Lady Rattlers have the personnel to pick up a win tonight.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.