Tigers rally past Panthers in pool play at Weslaco Tourney

WESLACO — Mercedes’ Randi Lara sank a go-ahead free throw in the final minute to propel the Tigers to a 54-53 win over Mid-Valley rivals Weslaco High.

The two teams met in pool play at the Weslaco Tournament being held at Weslaco East and Weslaco High School. Both teams enter the season as two of the top teams in the Mid Valley, as well as the Valley.

Mercedes Tigers after defeating Weslaco High on Thursday in Weslaco. (Edward Severn/The Monitor)

Weslaco High had multiple looks in the final minutes because of rebounds or loose balls following its way, but the Tigers tightened up to pick up an impressive win against one of the Valley’s best basketball programs.

“We got a good senior club,” Mercedes head coach Santiago Rivas said. “We are glad to play Weslaco, we have lost to them a lot of times, so it was a good game for us. It is good to get us ready for district. That is what really is important.”

Lara finished with 13 points, five them came in the fourth quarter. Lara drained a 3-pointer to open the quarter and give the Tigers a 45-42 lead, and scored the last points of the game.

“I had so many jitters when I had to take those shots,” Lara said. “I knew my teammates could trust me.”

Mercedes’ Randi Lara at the Lower Valley media day in San Benito. (Andrew Cordero/Special to The Monitor)

Jaymie Flores and Regina Gaytan also stepped up late for the Tigers. Flores dropped 11 points and Gaytan 10. The pair were pivotal down the stretch when Leah Adame fouled out after scoring 16 points, all in the first half.

“I knew I had to step up in the beginning,” Adame said. “They ran up the score on us real quick and our team was a little down. As a leader I had to push my team in scoring and keeping our heads high. Our goal this year is to go after that district championship, and Weslaco is a great team. It was a good game that is going to help us in the season.”

Adame blamed herself for fouling out and making what she said were dumb fouls.

“We live and we learn,” she said.

Mercedes’ Regina Gaytan at the Lower Valley media day in San Benito. (Andrew Cordero/Special to The Monitor)

Weslaco High held a comfortable lead before Flores nailed back-to-back 3-pointers and Lara grabbed a bucket to give the Tigers a 40-38 lead late in the third quarter.

Mercedes’ Jaymie Flores at the Lower Valley media day in San Benito. (Andrew Cordero/Special to The Monitor)

Weslaco High’s Isabel Magallanes dropped 16 points, and banked in a buzzer-beater to give the Panthers a five-point half-time lead after Adame scored 13 in the second quarter to help the Tigers back in the game.

The Panthers built a 22-10 lead at one point. Senior Rae Medina, the only senior on the team, had 14 points. Drya Arredondo and Sary Gonzales each had six points. An injury to Arredondo late in the game hurt the Panthers.

The Tigers went 2-0 Thursday. Mercedes defeated Tuloso-Midway in its first game.

Friday’s schedule for the Weslaco Tournament