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MISSION – Officially, Friday night’s game between Mission and La Joya was to determine which team would move on to the postseason. However, the atmosphere was too electric to be just a play-in game as the Lady Eagle crowd spurred their team to a climatic comeback win, 37-31.

Down five at the end of a third quarter that saw the team miss six of seven free throws, Mission suddenly caught fire in the fourth quarter as Alejandro Cedillo, Ruth Ruiz and Carolee Lopez scored nine straight points to take a 28-26 lead with just under six minutes to go. The two-point lead was the Lady Eagle’s first since the end of the first quarter.

In the beginning, the Lady Coyotes seemed to come out with the intent of frustrating Mission into early mistakes by employing a high-pressured defense. For the most part the strategy worked. However, La Joya could never fully take advantage of their opponent’s mistakes, either missing open shots or turning the ball over themselves.

In the second quarter more things went La Joya’s way. Behind a three-pointer by Leyla Platas and four straight points by Elva Hinojosa in the final two and a half minutes, the Lady Coyotes took a 20-14 lead at the end of the second. In the third Dan Morales’ team was able to maintain the lead.

However, as noted earlier, the fourth was all about Mission. After Cedillo and co. gave their team the lead as well as got the Mission faithful on their feet, Ruiz came up big a couple minutes later with another three-pointer, nearly causing the gym’s roof to blow.

Though the left-corner three only gave the Lady Eagles a one-possession lead at 31-28, the nothing-but-net basket was a nail-in-the-coffin for La Joya’s season. As time wound down the Lady Coyotes started to foul, sending Cedillo to the line three different times where the guard went six of seven to seal the win.

The dramatic victory was the sixth win in seven games for Mission. The Lady Eagles will move on to play District 29-5A’s top team Laredo Alexander on Tuesday night at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

For La Joya, a disappointing season comes to an end. The Lady Coyotes have been just outside the playoffs for the past couple years now and this was likely their best team to get the postseason berth. Even more disappointingly, La Joya was ahead of Mission in the standings for much of the season before losing their last three, including tonight’s loss.

GAME MVP: Ruth Ruiz and Alejandro Cedillo were heroic in the fourth quarter. Ruiz’s only scored a total of eight points the entire game but her two foruth-quarter three pointers sent the Mission crowd into a joyous frenzy and dampened the spirits of the opponent. Cedillo used her sure ball handling skills to thwart La Joya’s pressure all game long. In the final minutes the outstanding point guard calmly hit her free throws to seal the win.

Other Games-Boys

Nikki Rowe at Mission: TBA

Sharyland 70 La Joya 61: The road victory officially crowns the Sharyland Rattlers as District 30-5A’s Champions.

Palmview at McHi: TBA

Veterans Memorial 54 Brownsville Veterans Memorial 46: A great win but too little too late for the Patriots who were eliminated from the playoff prior to tonight.

Roma 56 Juarez-Lincoln 29: The Huskies really needed a win tonight but their playoff hopes are dashed only if Weslaco East won tonight. If by a chance the Wildcats loss, Juarez needs a win on Tuesday and an East loss to Veterans Memorial, in order to clinch a playoff berth.

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