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Second half success

La Joya takes two from Juarez-Lincoln

One year after winning only four district games the entire season, the Lady Coyotes of La Joya High won their fifth in six tries this season by defeating the Lady Huskies of Juarez-Lincoln 51-22 Tuesday night as part of a girls/boys basketball double header at Juarez-Lincoln High school. The win helped La Joya keep pace with PSJA North in the District 30-6A standings. The two teams are currently tied for second place, one game behind McAllen Memorial.

  The Lady Coyotes turned a close game at the half into a rout by holding the Lady Huskies to just five second half points.  After jumping out to a 13-2 lead in the first quarter behind a pair of three pointers from Kassandra Chavez, the Lady Huskies had the deficit down to five by the end of the quarter with three pointers of their own from Abigail Pena and Guadalupe Briseno. The Lady Coyotes extended the lead to eight by halftime with ten second quarter points, getting eight of them from Melady Renteria at the free throw line. Four points from Jessyca Alvarez in the second kept the Lady Huskies within striking distance.

  Juarez, however, managed only three points in the third quarter and five overall in the second half in dropping their sixth district game of the year. With Renteria in foul trouble, Viviana Rios took over running the attack for the Lady Coyotes in the third, scoring five of her eight points on the night. Maggie Guajardo added seven points in the fourth while Renteria sank four more free throws to finish the night as the games’ leading scorer with 16.

  Juarez Coach Irlanda Amador had her team ready but just couldn’t get the ball to drop most of the night. “Defensively we’re getting a lot of stops. The defense is there, we just have to convert.”

  The real story has been the turnaround made by the Lady Coyotes. Last year at this time the team was in the middle of a losing streak that erased a 2-0 start to district. They never recovered. This year, so far, has been different.

  “We have a lot of commitment this year,” said Renteria. “A lot of us want to get better. At practice, all the time we go hard. There is a lot more sacrifice this year.”

  Rios agreed with Renteria. “Definitely what we do in practice. We are putting in a lot of work this year.”

  Coach Juan Luis Gonzalez said the turnaround started before the season. “When we started playing in the summer, we started (saying) “You know what, we can compete.” We started winning a few games and then, all of a sudden you start getting that little confidence. Now we’re not competing, we’re more like; “Hey we got to win,” That’s the biggest difference from last year to this year.”

  The Lady Coyotes’ next game is a big one as they close out the first half of district play when they host PSJA North tonight in a game that will break the second place tie the two teams are currently in. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 pm.

  La Joya High made it a sweep in the boys’ half of the double header with a hard fought 72-67 win over the Huskies. The win evened out the Coyotes record at 2-2 in district, currently good for fifth place. More importantly, they are just one game back of the three teams tied for second. McAllen High, McAllen Memorial and McAllen Rowe are all 3-1 in district. PSJA North leads the standings at 4-0.

  Putting the ball in the basket was not an issue for either team in this game. The Huskies came out hitting from long range, netting six three pointers in the first quarter (two each from Raymond Camara, Kenneth Gonzalez, and Adan Alvarez) as they built a 28-16 lead. The Coyotes’ Bernie Vera had nine points in the first to try to keep it close. Ten different Coyotes, including Vera, contributed points over the next two quarters to help La Joya cut the Huskies’ lead to six by halftime and to one going into the fourth quarter.

  The fourth saw five lead changes and three ties, the last at 67 all before Juan Trujillo hit two free throws with 1:48 left in the game to put the Coyotes in front for good. Trujillo led all scorers on the night with 22 points, with a total of 12 coming from the charity stripe. Camara finished with 21 for the Huskies but was held to just three in the second half. Juarez as a team managed only 21 second half points. The loss dropped them to 0-4 in district play.

  The rough start hasn’t distracted Huskies coach Adrian Trevino from what he wants his team to get done this year. “By no means am I disappointed. We are not the team that we were last year. We’ve been in a lot more games. Right now we are looking at possibly making a mess at the bottom (of the standings), looking at the teams that we have left, to see if we can steal some games. If we can just stay close enough to win them and maybe get over that hump of experience and win a close game, I think it will be a big thing for us.”

  The Coyotes were excited to win this one, as evidenced by the huge roar coming from their locker room as they exited it after the game.

  “Everyone was contributing,” said Vera, who finished the night with 14 points. “That’s what made us get over that hump.”

   “We were down the first three quarters by quite a lot,” said Trujillo, “but we were able to fight through adversity and bring it back for the win.”

  Coach Eric Montalvo was proud of the team effort. “Thankfully the kids battled. They battled all the way through and stayed focused. We stuck to our defensive principles and they came through.”

  The Coyotes next game figures to be a battle too. District leader PSJA North visits the Coyotes tonight in the second game of the double header. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 pm.

This article originally appeared in the Friday Jan. 17, 2020 issue of the Progress Times.

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