With only one month remaining in the 23-24 basketball season, several Big 7 girls’ basketball teams are jockeying for playoff seeds, fending off challengers to their supremacy, or fighting to end the season on a good note. The La Joya Palmview Lady Lobos and Sharyland Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks have been the class of the Big 7 and their respective districts all season. The Mission Lady Eagles and La Joya Lady Coyotes seemed like playoff locks. Will they be able to hold onto their current spots? The season is almost over, but there’s too much basketball left to assume that what’s true now won’t be a lie tomorrow. Here’s how each team is doing with less than one month left in the season:
La Joya Palmview Lady Lobos (District 30-5A)
The La Joya Palmview Lady Lobos have the best season resume in the Big 7. With victories over Killeen, Alamo Heights, state-ranked Stephenville, a pre-season tournament championship against Calallen at Calallen, and a 2-1 record against 31- 5A teams, the Lady Lobos already have a mountain of laurels to rest on. But with four games left and a trip to number two Laredo Nixon among them, their primary focus is on finishing. The Lady Lobos should have no problem with Mia and Jocelyn Rojas at the helm. The two have combined to average 28 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals per game. Tonight, they travel to Laredo Nixon with an opportunity to cement their hold on first place heading into their final three games. Although they recently defeated the Lady Mustangs by double digits, they know they can’t take anything for granted.
“We committed and sacrificed to put the time in the gym cleaning up basic footwork and skill, improving speed, expanding basketball IQ, and execution. Now, we have to finish what we started for our team, program, school, and community,” head coach Anisa Reyna said.
Sharyland Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks (District 31-5A)
One year after finding themselves outside of the playoff picture looking in, the Lady Diamondbacks are seated at the head of the table. Thirteen wins in their last fourteen have placed the Lady Diamondbacks in firm control of District 31-5A with just four games remaining. A future Friday home game against current second-place, and defending district champion Edinburg Vela, will most likely determine who will wear the crown this year. Lead guard Kassandra Garcia and star freshman Ebonie Chatman scored and set the tempo in their last victory against the Lady Sabercats and have been offensive beacons all year. Valerie Vela and Anika Fleischmann lead an aggressive Diamondback defense that creates second-chance opportunities by forcing turnovers and crashing the boards. The Lady Diamondbacks head into their final four games after narrowly surviving their last three by a combined 14 points. It won’t be easy, but the Lady Diamondbacks know nothing worth having is.
“District 31-5A is a tough one. There isn’t a “day off” to be taken. If we want to be prepared to battle every Tuesday and Friday night, it demands a focused mindset in every practice and film session. Staying grounded and knowing we need to work hard. A district championship is not going to be handed to us,” head coach Nicole Sandoval said.
Mission Lady Eagles (District 31-6A)
Going head to head with the Edinburg Lady Bobcats in district play immediately after a hellacious non-district schedule isn’t something the Lady Eagles were unprepared for, but it’s taken some adjusting. The Lady Eagles’ losses have all come against playoff-worthy opponents with a combined 188-69 record. But with the district championship out of reach after Tuesday night’s blowout loss to the Lady Bobcats, the Lady Eagles are easing into familiar territory. Last year, they battled Edinburg North for third place, and this year, they will have to fend off that same squad and the fourth-place La Joya Lady Coyotes. Sharpshooting guard Justice Cardenas, senior big Katelyn Richardson, and attacking wings Cassandra Salas and Bella Rivera will lead the team in their final three contests against Edinburg North, Edinburg Economedes, and La Joya. The Lady Eagles will approach that trio of games with the same attitude and mindset that has them on the brink of consecutive playoff berths.
“I’ve been saying this all season, one game at a time. We need to play with grit and determination for four quarters. It’s that simple,” head coach Erica Molina said.
La Joya Lady Coyotes (District 31-6A)
A 6-23 record to start the season wasn’t something the Lady Coyotes planned, but after their last six games, they find themselves clinging to the third playoff spot in 31-6A. Twenty combined points a game from Cynthia Longoria, Lydia Gonzalez, and Calixtra Gandaria have lifted the team to a tie for third with PSJA High with only four games remaining. The Lady Coyotes will host the Lady Bears tonight, with the Lady Coyotes playoff streak potentially on the line if Edinburg North beats Mission. If the Lady Coyotes lose, things will get chaotic. Either way, tonight’s game is their most crucial game of the season.
Sharyland Lady Rattlers (District 31-5A)
The Lady Rattlers have settled into the middle of the 31-5A standings and will miss the playoffs as a result. Yet, after a winless non-district schedule, their six district wins represent a massive improvement. Consistent play from Mariajose Campos, Callie Keith, and Mia Bargas has kept the Lady Rattlers afloat, but it has yet to translate into winning consistency. With four games remaining against McAllen Rowe, McAllen High, PSJA North, and Sharyland Pioneer, the Lady Rattlers will be able to showcase their talent against the very best the district has to offer. With any luck, their success in those games could snowball into success a year from now.
Mission Veterans Lady Patriots (District 30-5A)
Six straight losses after their last win vs Juarez-Lincoln have placed the Lady Patriots at the bottom of their district. Non-district wins against PSJA High and La Joya have proven that the Lady Patriots are indeed capable of being more than they currently are, but their season has not been kind. The Lady Patriots have been competitive with senior April Guerrero leading the way, but their time may be a year away.
La Joya Juarez-Lincoln Lady Huskies (District 30-5A)
This basketball season hasn’t been kind to the Lady Huskies. With their only two wins coming against an 0-27 Donna North team, they haven’t had much to smile about. The Lady Huskies have yet to go to the playoffs this decade. Although they won’t make the playoffs this year, they will return seven lettermen from this year’s team, including juniors Danna Gonzalez, Maria Cortez, and freshman Gladys Serrato. The Lady Huskies finish the season against the top half of District 30-5A, and although the odds don’t look good, it could lay the groundwork for next year’s turnaround.