EDINBURG — Three years ago, Edinburg Harvest Christian head coach Jaime Gonzalez sat in the Bert Ogden Arena stands with several of his players, watching Harlingen High and Edinburg High go toe-to-toe in the third round of the playoffs.

Gonzalez’s message to his team that night was that the two teams on the hardwood represented the best of the best in the RGV girls basketball that year, setting the bar for what he hoped his team would one day reach.

Three years and one state title later, and the Harvest Christian Eagles are right in the conversation with those teams, finishing the regular season as arguably the top team in the Valley alongside Edinburg High and gearing up for another state title run.

The Eagles tip off the postseason and their TAPPS 1A title defense at 5 p.m. today against Spring Founders Christian at Harvest Christian.

The Harvest Christian girls basketball team embraces during the final moments of the the 2023 TAPPS 1A state championship game Thursday at Robinson High School in Robinson. (Mason Flippin | Special to The Monitor)

“Three years ago, some of these girls were freshmen,” Gonzalez said. “I took them to that game and told them this is the best there is in the Valley this year. This is the best and most accurate measuring stick. To be honest, I didn’t expect us to get to that level. I knew we could be one of the top programs in the Valley. But this year I think our work speaks for itself.”

The Eagles’ rise to the top hasn’t come without challenges. Just like in years past, finding games and tournaments to play in proved to be a challenge this season, with teams viewing playing the Eagles as a game with nothing to gain and everything to lose.

Harvest Christian senior Ashley Gonzalez (24) drives to the basket against Brownsville Veterans during a tournament game. (Andrew Cordero | Special to RGVSports)

Still, Harvest Christian managed to put together a stacked schedule like always, with 25 of its 31 non-district games coming against UIL Class 4A-6A opponents.

The reigning TAPPS 1A state champions put together an impressive resumè this season, amassing a 37-1 regular season record.

The record alone doesn’t do justice to the Eagles’ dominance. No team came within single digits during their 37 wins, which included victories over Harlingen High, San Benito, Los Fresnos and Brownsville Veterans, to name a few.

“Things have changed over the past four years,” Harvest Christian senior Ashley Gonzalez said. “It is really cool being able to not only compete with 6As but having them respect us.”


Harvest Christian racked up a 17-1 record against playoff qualifying teams during the regular season, including two wins over 32-5A champion Brownsville Veterans.

The Eagles’ lone loss came at the hands of the team they watched from the stands three years ago, falling to the Bobcats 66-60 during arguably the best girls basketball game of the year in the RGV.

Edinburg High’s Emily Carranco (10) and Harvest Christian’s Samantha Munoz (34) battle for position under the basket during a non-district game Dec. 12, 2023at Edinburg High. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

“To be in a game with Edinburg, I appreciate Coach (JD) Salinas giving us that game, we were looking forward to it,” Harvest Christian head coach Jaime Gonzalez said. “We hope everybody that went out there got to see a good basketball game. It’s just truly a special things for our girls to be in a game of that magnitude with a program that is that successful. I’m proud that our girls were able to compete, and it was one of the highlights of our season even though it was a loss.”

Leading the Eagles this season is a talented group of returners, including all five starters.

Siblings Ashley and Jamie Gonzalez, both daughters of the head coach, give Harvest Christian a dynamic one-two scoring punch on offense, ranking first and second on the team in points per game this year.

Ashley leads the Eagles with 22.3 points per game, adding 7.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.2 steals. The four-year starter eclipsed the 3,000-point mark this year.

Jamie enters the playoffs averaging 16.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.9 steals and 2.1 assists. The sophomore shooting guard has surpassed the 1,000-point mark despite only being in her second season.

Left to right, Harvest Christian’s Jamie and Ashley Gonzalez. (Andrew Cordero | Special to RGVSports)

“I remember Ashley getting her 1,000 points her sophomore year,” Jamie added. “I told myself I didn’t know I was going to get it. I didn’t even know I was close, but it felt good. There is pressure being her younger sister, but it comes with the game. But this year has been fun. In the back of my head is knowing this is my last year playing with Ashley.”

Senior Lexi Garcia is the catalyst of the team’s offense, serving as the Eagles’ point guard since her freshman year. The 5-foot-2 floor general leads the team with 5.1 assists per game, also chipping in 13.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals per contest.

The four-year starter eclipsed the 1,500-point and 500-assist mark earlier this season.

Harvest Christian senior Lexi Garcia. (Andrew Cordero | Special to RGVSports)

“For me, seeing all my teammates reach career accolades this year, it motivated me to do more,” Garcia said. “Reaching those marks, I see my teammates and my coach. Not just me. I pointed straight to them and God when I reached those marks. It’s just cool to know that all the girls have my back. All these four years, it has been wonderful to play with what seems like sisters.”

Junior Riley McClaugherty and senior Samantha Munoz round out the Eagles’ returning starters, both providing a dominant inside presence for the Eagles.

McClaugherty, a TAPPS 1A state tournament selection last year, leads the team in rebounds, averaging 9.7 per game, also adding 13.0 points, 2.8 steals and 1.5 assists per contest. Like Jamie, she also broke the 1,000-point mark this year.

Harvest Christian junior Riley McClaughety (12) drives to the basket during a non-district game against Edinburg High on Dec. 12, 2023 at Edinburg High. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor)

“It’s been a blessing from God,” McClaugherty said. “Playing with these other girls, it really motivates me. They’re so good that being around them pushes me.”

Harvest Christian enters the postseason riding a 10-game winning streak since its loss to Edinburg High, including a 6-0 mark during district play.

Back-to-back state titles could be on the horizon for the Eagles, with Harvest Christian heavily favored to repeat since last season finished.

Regardless of how the season ends, however, Harvest Christian has established itself as a dominant force in RGV basketball.

“We’ve come a long way, obviously, over the last four years,” head coach Jaime Gonzalez said. “A lot of it has to do with the dedication that these girls have. Every year we’ve built on what was done the previous year. Hopefully that starts the tradition and the culture has been set so girls coming up can go in there and flow in after them.”

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