HARLINGEN — When junior guard A’nnika Saenz went down with a left knee injury during the final minute of the first quarter, Edinburg High coach J.D Salinas needed to find an answer without his best player.
With the Lady Bobcats trailing and Saenz not returning to the lineup, Salinas received his answers from Bre Sanchez — who scored a game-high 14 points — and Daysha Tijerina — who scored 12 points — as Edinburg High rode a strong second quarter to a 49-39 win over Harlingen South.
“A’nnika, I would say, and in a lot of people’s mind, is one of the top players in South Texas, and when you lose a kid like that in a game, it took the kids some time to get back into the flow of the game,” Salinas said. “When you lose your horse and she is out, I’m proud of how our girls responded, and we talked with them at the half and it had to bring out the best in everyone else. We had girls playing different positions, but I thought we had different girls step in and make plays for us.”
Harlingen South got off to a strong start and led 17-10 early in the second quarter after Karla Reyes and Laura Ramirez drilled back-to-back 3-pointers.
The seven-point lead was quickly erased as Edinburg High settled down and answered with a strong 15-4 run, executing in transition to end the first half and taking a 25-21 lead into the break.
“I think they just beat us in transition. They were scoring on us in transition,” Lady Hawks coach Kelly Garrett said. “Our halfcourt defense, for the most part, was better than usual, and we weren’t executing on offense like we should have been.”
Ramirez scored 10 points, and Reyes led the South offense with 12 points. Alexes Rocha finished with eight points in the loss.
The strong second quarter continued into the third quarter for the Lady Bobcats. Sanchez scored four points in the third as Edinburg High outscored South 13-6 in the period and opened their lead to 38-27.
The second-quarter swing was the momentum shifter that Salinas saw in his team, along with the response from losing Saenz early in the game.
“I think so, we tried to focus on our defensive side and tried to get our defense to lead to an easy offense, and we got a lot of those points off of transition and that gave us some confidence in the game despite not having A’nnika in the game,” Salinas said.
The Lady Bobcats are off to an 18-2 start this year and have won three straight. They will play host to Los Fresnos on Friday night.
Harlingen South, meanwhile, is 8-7 and will shift its focus to McAllen High on Friday at home.
“We didn’t execute well, and Edinburg High did,” Garrett said. “We need to execute better on offense, but we are getting there and we saw some good things tonight. We just turned over the ball tonight at the wrong time.”