EDINBURG — On a team with one of the deepest backcourts throughout the Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg High center Janai Coleman stands out for all the right reasons.
The Bobcats’ freshman standout in the low post has an eye for the ball and the right combination of size, speed and strength to get to it more often than not.
Coleman put her athleticism on display Thursday night by dominating the interior on both ends of the floor, tallying game highs in points and rebounds on her way to a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double as Edinburg High — the 14th-ranked Class 6A team in the Texas Girls Coaches Association Top 25 — rolled to a dominant 74-23 victory against crosstown rival Edinburg Economedes.
“Janai is tough. She’s going to get her nine or 10 rebounds a game. She’s super strong and she’s got quick end-to-end speed and has great instincts to get to the basketball,” Edinburg High head coach John David Salinas said. “She’s kind of like a safety or defensive back. She’s got an eye for where that ball is going and it doesn’t take her long to get going. She sees it and she goes. She’s a great asset, as all our other players are as well. They’ve each got that go-to kind of thing that makes us pretty successful.”
“We were just passing (down low) and really communicating as a team. We were really trying to look for open shots and get some good buckets and (lots of) rebounds,” Coleman said. “We were really boxing out and talking a lot (tonight). We were trying to dump it off to a teammate (and keep the ball moving).”
The Bobcats’ 51-point victory over the Jags was one of their most complete performances of the season that allowed the team to showcase its depth.
From the opening jump, Coleman and Edinburg High owned the paint on both ends of the floor with a pass-happy, inside-out approach in the halfcourt offensively.
The freshman center was one of four Bobcats to reach double figures in scoring. Fellow freshman Madison Martinez scored 14 points on a 55.5% shooting night, while senior guards Daysha Tijerina and A’nnika Saenz — a UTRGV basketball signee — added 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Edinburg High also collected a season-high 51 rebounds to own a sizable edge in the rebounding battle as every player who entered the game contributed to the team’s big night on the boards.
“I think the biggest thing is that we’re super deep on our team,” Salinas said. “We’re really blessed from the overall team that we have from A’nnika, Daysha and the seniors all the way down to our freshman girls, and they all know their roles.”
A slow start offensively gave the team a 33-13 lead over Econ at the half, but the Bobcats came sprinting out of the gate during the second half and started with fireworks.
Edinburg High poured in 25 points as part of a monster quarter and held the Jaguars to four points in 8 minutes, while not allowing Economedes to convert on a single shot from the floor during the third, thanks in large part to Coleman and Emily Carranco’s defensive presence in the paint.
“We were just talking through everything from when they would set screens to switching (and everything else),” Coleman said.
The dominant performance lifted the Bobcats to their 11th consecutive win — 12th overall — in District 31-6A after several hectic weeks reshaped their district schedule.
Edinburg High played only three games during a five-week period book-ended by program-wide quarantines, but the squad has maximized all its opportunities to get on the court since then winning all four of its games in the past week.
“Fortunately, this is the time of year when we want to be playing our better basketball leading into the playoffs,” Salinas said. “Hopefully we continue to get to play with COVID(-19) and so forth, but the girls are excited for what (this season) has been and where we are right now. With no tournaments and stuff, I’d like to say we’re satisfied with where we’re at but we’re headed there. We still want a little bit more.”