Districts 31-5A and 32-5A tip off tonight

HARLINGEN — Non-district and tournament action is over for the Valley’s two largest districts, District 31 and 32-5A tip off today.

Edinburg Vela ended its tournament play by winning the Tommie Wiseman tournament by defeating district rivals Sharyland Pioneer in the final 41-37 in overtime at La Feria High School on Saturday.

Edinburg Vela’s JaNai Coleman fights for a loose ball against Sharyland Pioneer. (Andrew Cordero/Special to The Monitor)

Edinburg Vela senior JaNai Coleman finished with a game-high 24 points and nailed clutch free-throws late along with teammates to end non-district play 14-3.

Edinburg Vela head coach Lottie Zarate said that even though they played the Diamondbacks in a tournament game, her team treated it as a district match up.

“Every team that we are going to face come Tuesday is going to bring it, they are going to play their best game against us,” Zarate said.

Zarate was complimentary about Pioneer’s effort in the game and how good of a team that head coach Nicole Villarreal-Sandoval has.

“I am just happy that these young ladies pulled through, never gave up, they leaned on each other and that is what matters,” Zarate said.

An injury to senior guard Bella Mancha late put Pioneer at a slight disadvantage late, but it was still a valiant effort from a team that was on the outside looking in for the race to the top four in District 31-5A.

Villarreal-Sandoval said there has been a lot of growth in the run up to district.

“I thought we played really well,” she said. “We made some mistakes down the stretch, and again, we are learning from them.”

Diamondbacks point guard Kassandra Garcia handled the ball well and freshman small forward Ebonie Chatman dropped 15 and has a smooth shot that could fire Sharyland Pioneer back in the playoffs.

District 31-5A opens up with McHi and McAllen Rowe at 7:30 p.m. at Rowe in one of the most intriguing meetings in the district. Both teams are 9-7 and have had tough schedules. McAllen Rowe came out on top 42-35 when the two faced off in a tourney.

Edinburg Vela and McAllen Rowe were the top two teams in the district last season while McAllen Memorial and Sharyland High round out the top four.

McAllen Memorial (9-6) faces PSJA North (8-8) at PSJA North at 7:30 p.m. This game also has the makings of a competitive match up for two playoff hopefuls.

PSJA Memorial is at Sharyland High, PSJA Southwest goes to Vela and Valley View hosts Pioneer, all at 7:30 p.m.

Brownsville Veterans Memorial looks to start its title defense against a tough Harlingen South team that finished second last season.

The Chargers finished second at the BISD tournament Saturday, losing to Harvest Christian for the second time in a final, they lost to the Eagles at the Weslaco tournament. Brownsville Veterans also lost to Edinburg High in the Border Bash championship.

“Saturday was a really good step for us in the right direction,” Brownsville Veterans head coach Arnold Torres said. “Despite injuries and the obstacles we had every body stepped up, 1 through 11.”

Brownsville Veterans hosts Harlingen South at 7:30 p.m.

The Hawks (10-7) had a strong preseason and non-district schedule. Harlingen South played tough at a tourney in San Antonio and almost defeated Edinburg Vela 28-26 at the Tommie Wiseman tournament.

The Hawks went on to win third place.

“We are coming together,” Harlingen South head coach Rebecca Littleton said. “I think we still have a lot to work on, but I am proud of their effort, their attitude and they are looking for that gold ball. We are working towards it every day.”

Also looking for a gold ball this season is Mercedes a senior heavy team. The Tigers (10-5) also had impressive performances and face Edcouch-Elsa at 7:30 p.m. at home.

Brownsville Lopez finished third in 2022 and with key players returning from last season’s success open the season at 7:30 p.m. at Donna High.

Weslaco East (7-12) finished fourth in 2022 also have gone up north for competition as they prepare for district. The Wildcats open District 32-5A with Brownsville Porter at 7:30 p.m. at home.

Donna North and Brownsville Pace will look to pick up a win to start district strong at 7:30 p.m. at Brownsville Pace.