The Sharyland Rattlers have earned an elite status being ranked No. 20 statewide.
With a 23-5 overall and 6-1 district record going into Tuesday night’s game, the Rattlers boys basketball team was ranked 20th among all 5A schools by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC). That’s one spot behind the only team that has defeated the Rattlers in district play this season – the Edinburg Vela Sabercats.
After the Rattlers’ 58-44 win Tuesday night over the Pioneer Diamondbacks and the Sabercats’ 87-56 win over Rio Grande City, both teams remain atop the District 31-5A standings as of today with Vela holding a slim one game lead over Sharyland. With four games remaining on their schedule, one being a rematch with the Sabercats, the Rattlers are still in control of their own destiny as they seek to earn at least a share of the district crown.
The Diamondbacks, who led by two points late in the third quarter, gave the Rattlers a run for their money Tuesday evening, but that was when the tide turned in the Rattlers’ favor.
“I’m extremely proud of all those kids at Pioneer,” said Sharyland head coach David Keith about his former players. “The way they battled us tonight proves that they’re a good team. They’re athletic and they turned this game into a dogfight for three quarters. We were finally able to knock a few shots down in the fourth quarter that we couldn’t hit early on and what looked like was going to happen in the first three quarters finally happened in the fourth.”
“I have to give credit to Coach Gonzalez for having his kids ready to play,” added Keith. “They did a really good job tonight.”
Of the Rattlers four remaining games two are on the road and two are at home, including the Vela rematch. Playing the Sabercats in front of his team’s home faithful is something Keith expects to play into the Rattler’s favor come next Friday the 13th.
“It seems as if we’ve been playing better at home,” said Keith. “Pioneer has been getting better. Of course they beat Veterans Memorial Friday so we knew that they were going to come in confident, hot and riding the wave from that win. We knew we were going to see a much better team than the one we saw the first time around and I think we can expect the same thing from all the other teams in the district, including Vela.”
With 10 of the 12 players on the Rattlers’ roster being seniors this year, this is a season that Keith has been building towards for four years. As much as he has been focused on building a great team over that period, there is one goal that supersedes anything that can happen on the basketball court.
“Our goal for this year is everything,” said Keith. “Ultimately it’s to have these young men leave this season and the past four years as better men. To have them be great men in the community and be great family men. That is our ultimate goal. But for the season the state tournament would be fantastic.”
Tonight the Rattlers will be traveling to Valley View to play the 3-6 Tigers. Sharyland will then close out the season with home games against Rio Grande City (0-8) and Vela (9-0) and the district finale at Veterans Memorial (6-3).