The Brownsville Veterans Memorial Lady Chargers lost to the Victoria East Lady Titans in a UIL Class 5A area-round game Friday at Corpus Christi King.
Brownsville Veterans battled hard during the first half and went toe-to-toe with the bigger Lady Titans. But Victoria East’s rebounding and defense helped the Lady Titans dominate the second half to get a 57-33 win and advance to the third round.
The Lady Chargers finished the season with a 22-4 record and as District 32-5A champions after going 13-1 through the district season. Brownsville Veterans was ranked No. 20 by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches and No. 22 by the Texas Girls Coaches Association in the final regular-season polls.
“I was really proud that our girls continued to fight. We battled and battled, we just struggled a little in the second half trying to get into our offense,” Lady Chargers coach Arnold Torres said. “I’m proud that the girls left everything on the court. It was a successful year for us. We were blessed to be able to have a season. I’m really proud of what we did, it’s just a little hard for it to come to an end.”
Brownsville Veterans senior Julia “Juju” Alvarez got the game started with a bang, knocking down 3-pointers on consecutive possessions. Sophomore Alexa Torres added another midway through the opening quarter to put the Lady Chargers on top 13-4. Victoria East responded with a scoring run to chip away at the lead, making it 18-14 after the first.
Torres said Alvarez, Alexa Torres, junior Caite Esquivel, junior Bry Buitureira and senior Ale Ortiz played well to keep the Lady Chargers competitive and close through the remainder of the first half. Brownsville Veterans played solid defense and forced turnovers to slow down Victoria East and keep the game tied at 23 at halftime. Torres was pleased to see his girls stick to the defensive game plan and keep Victoria East’s bigger posts from scoring very often.
“(Alvarez) gave our younger girls some momentum and confidence. Her start spread to the rest of the team,” Torres said. “Ale and Caite did a good job down low battling with those girls. The game was a little more physical than what we’ve been used to, and they were able to keep their mentality and that kept us in the game. Bry and Alexa worked hard and battled. Everybody contributes in a different way every game. Every girl that played today was an impact for us.”
Victoria East’s defense forced turnovers and notched steals often during the second half to put the clamps on Brownsville Veterans’ offense, holding the Lady Chargers to 10 points in the final 16 minutes. The Lady Titans were especially successful with pulling down offensive rebounds, and the extra scoring chances along with transition layups from solid defense helped them pull away for the win.
“I think Victoria East did a good job in increasing the pressure on the defensive side, and we kind of struggled handling that pressure,” Torres said. “There was also a couple of calls that our girls were kind of upset about, and we let that get to us and it kind of changed the momentum there. Once they started coming out on us a little bit we struggled attacking the basket. We attacked every once in a while, but we didn’t capitalize on that. It felt like we settled for those outside shots.”
The Lady Chargers continued to compete until the final buzzer even as their deficit widened. They had a big, loud crowd in attendance that showed support all season, right to the end.
“We’re really blessed to have a really good fan base. The parents are wonderful and always supporting the team,” Torres said. “To have them travel up here with us and cheer on the girls no matter what, that means a lot to me as a coach and to the girls for our program.”