Sharyland Pioneer, Mission Veterans suffer first round playoff exits
The road came to an end for Big 7 Girls Basketball on Monday night as the Sharyland Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks and Mission Veterans Lady Patriots suffered first round losses and were bounced from this year’s postseason.
Sharyland Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks
The District 31-5A Champion Lady Diamondbacks’ first trip to the playoffs ended in heartbreaking fashion Monday night as a last minute push and layup from Brownsville Pace put them over the top for a 47-46 win over Sharyland Pioneer at Sharyland Pioneer High School.
After falling behind 18-9 in the first quarter and with sophomore guard Audry Hornaday on the bench in foul trouble, the Lady Diamondbacks managed to fight back into the game with a pair of three-pointers from Danielle Rangel to force a 21-21 tie heading into the locker room.
The Sharyland Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks began to gain momentum in the second half as Hornaday bounced back to score all 10 of her points in the third and fourth quarters, while senior Alicia Martinez poured in eight of her 11 with tough inside play after the break. The Lady Diamondbacks managed to pull ahead 44-40 in the final minutes but shooting 2 of 10 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter came back to bite Sharyland Pioneer as Pace’s Lexy Arce hit a layup with 8.6 seconds left to seal the 47-46 victory.
Although their season may be over, the Sharyland Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks took significant steps forward this year. Head Coach Nicole Villarreal and her girls missed out on the playoffs a season ago by one game and said they wouldn’t let it happen again. The Lady Diamondbacks then proceeded to win a program record 24 games, capture their first district championship and make the school’s first playoff appearance ever in 2018-2019.
Sharyland Pioneer will return 10 players next season, all who now have playoff experience under their belt as the Lady Diamondbacks continue the hunt for their first postseason victory in program history.
Mission Veterans Lady Patriots
The Mission Lady Patriots basketball team got off to a slow start in their Bi-district playoff matchup against Donna at McAllen High Monday night, and even though they never gave up, they were never able to catch up. A 16-2 deficit at the end of the first quarter became a 30-14 halftime deficit, then became a 45-27 deficit at the end of the third quarter and finally a 60-38 final score in favor of Donna High.
Senior Jackie Howell and junior Kaylee Flores led the way for the Lady Patriots with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Only three other Lady Patriots scored against Donna, junior Ronnie Cantu with seven points, senior Lily Gonzalez with four points and junior Kelly Garcia with two points.
The first round playoff loss was a disappointing finish to an otherwise extremely successful season for the Lady Patriots, who posted a 12-2 District 31-5A record and went into the playoffs as the district’s second seed.
When asked what accounted for their slow start in Monday night’s game, Lady Patriots’ head coach Rafael Cantu Jr. said, “We couldn’t make a shot, we got into foul trouble, and we simply did not play up to the level we’ve played all season. And they capitalized on it.”
With this being the final game as a Lady Patriot for senior Jackie Howell, she shared what this season has meant to her when she said, “It’s been great. I’ve loved playing every second of the four years I’ve been here.
Every team has been different and every year we didn’t know how each season was going to go for us. But it came out well every year and we’ve ended up towards the top of our district. This is one of the closest teams I’ve ever been on and I couldn’t be happier to end it with this kind of team.”