Brownsville St. Joseph’s decorated basketball seasons came to a close Saturday after a TAPPS Elite Eight doubleheader at Beeville Jones.
The TABC No. 6 Lady Bloodhounds lost to the No. 3 Boerne Geneva Lady Eagles in a 56-47 ballgame. The Bloodhounds lost 71-49 to the No. 9 Austin St. Michael’s Crusaders. Both teams ended district championship and third-round droughts in seasons that brought pride to SJA.
The Lady Bloodhounds played the first half of the doubleheader. They took an early lead to go up 17-14 after the first quarter, but Boerne Geneva came back in the second as the Lady Bloodhounds ran into some foul trouble.
“We had a very good first quarter then struggled a bit in the second one. That’s where we got into foul trouble and had to sit a couple of guards,” Lady Bloodhounds coach Robert Moreno said. “We gave up a pretty big lead before halftime, but they did come back and they battled and had a good third and fourth quarter, but the gap was a little too big. But I was proud that they came back and competed and never gave up.”
SJA trailed by 12 at halftime, but the Lady Bloodhounds cut the deficit to nine heading to the fourth quarter. They got within four points of the lead with three minutes remaining, but a turnover and having key player Lucia Gonzales foul out slowed the comeback.
Lucia and Ale Gonzales and Regina Tovar stood out to Moreno and had good performances during the season finale. But foul issues forced two of them out of the game, which ended up being a disadvantage as the Lady Bloodhounds tried to rally. Moreno is getting a lot of key pieces back next season, and already the Lady Bloodhounds are setting a goal to return to and surpass the Elite Eight.
“They played really well overall. We just need to sit down and start working for next year. We were short from going to the Final Four this time, but hopefully next year we shouldn’t be,” Moreno said.
The Bloodhounds had a tall task having to take on the Crusaders, who have three starters that stand 6-foot-5 and above. SJA didn’t have the strongest first half and went down 37-19 at halftime. Bloodhounds coach Sam Lucio was pleased with the way his team responded in the second half, but the deficit was too big to overcome.
“It was a tough game. The beginning of the game, we were in it, they just hit a couple 3-pointers and we missed some layups that could’ve kept us a little closer,” Lucio said. “Their size did affect us, more on the offensive side. They missed a couple shots but we couldn’t get the rebound, and they’d get the offensive rebounds and then the putbacks. We didn’t give up. The boys kept fighting hard the whole game.”
Lucio said the Bloodhounds were better about finishing drives at the hoop during the second half to close the deficit, but anytime SJA got close, the Crusaders answered with a scoring run to expand their lead. He said St. Michael’s hit more 3-pointers than SJA was expecting, and while the Crusaders’ shooters were hot, the Bloodhounds missed some shots they normally hit.
Lucky Edge, Luigi Cristiano, Josh Cisneros and Jimmy Navarro were some of the top performers who Lucio felt kept the Bloodhounds competitive. He credited Cristiano for battling down low against the size of St. Michael’s.
Though the season didn’t end with a win, Lucio said the journey was a blessing and he was happy for the team, and especially the seniors, for all the success.
“I’m super proud of the boys,” Lucio said. “In the summer, the guys would text me, ‘Coach, are we going to have a season?’ And I didn’t know how to answer. At that point we were just hoping. We were blessed to play this season, and it was a great season. Winning a district championship and a playoff game at home, those are all good memories that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. They did something special and put a couple of gold balls in the trophy case.”