Rattled: Lady Sabercats lose season finale in dramatic fashion
By: Jonathan Salinas
Tuesday night proved to be the “Battle of Giants” as any basketball fanatic would have expected.
The young Edinburg Vela Lady Sabercats, who are kicking off their inaugural year, versus the seasoned vets of the Sharyland Lady Rattlers; what more could you ask for? With both teams standing at a whopping 12-3 in district play and deadlocked for second place, Sharyland High School was the place to be; unless of course you suffer from a heart condition which prevents experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions because this one came down to the wire as the Lady Rattlers edged Edinburg Vela 45-44 in the closing seconds.
The Lady Sabercats came out on fire in the first quarter stifling the powerful Sharyland offense to only seven points while lighting up the scoreboard with 16 of their own. The Lady Rattlers offense uncharacteristically coughed up the ball nine times over the course of the first quarter but that didn’t worry head coach Dale Whitaker as much as their lack of defensive execution.
“We gave up 16 points in the first quarter,” Whitaker said. “We always work on defense so our seven points didn’t bother me so much. It was the fact that we gave up 16. That can’t happen. We weren’t in rhythm.”
However, the Lady Rattlers danced to the beat in the second quarter as their defense emerged and held Vela to a mere five points while Monica Salinas led an offensive attack scoring eight of the 11 points in the quarter to bring Sharyland within three at the half.
“At first I wasn’t playing too well,” Salinas admitted. “But Coach Whitaker explained that I needed to work better and I told him I was going to fix it. We just never gave up.”
The third quarter remained intense as both teams exchanged baskets but Vela had retained the lead since the start of the first. It wasn’t until the start of the fourth that the Lady Rattlers were able to tie the game at 31 after Salinas muscled her way to the hoop. Coach Whitaker says he couldn’t find the right word to describe tonight’s game.
“Intense is a good word I think,” Whitaker joked. “I just like to see competition. Both teams worked so hard and that’s what basketball should be like.”
Vela’s Ariel Rodriguez and Larissa Navarro, however, would not relinquish the lead as they answered back with a score every time Sharyland tied it. Back and forth they went until the three minute mark when Valeria Pozos-Zamarripa gave the Lady Rattlers their first lead since early in the first with a quick lay-up.
“They were working together,” Vela head coach Lottie Zarate said. “They were looking at the inside, penetrating down the middle and dishing it out. It was all basic basketball and they were executing that.”
With just a little over 10 seconds remaining and Vela leading by two after Maranda Washington drained a free throw, Salinas sprinted down the court to catch a pass in perfect stride and made her way to the basket. As she raised her arms to shoot, she was fouled.
You could hear a pin drop as the ball made its way through the air.
Salinas had now put her Lady Rattlers in perfect position to win as there were only six ticks left and the game tied at 44 with a free throw remaining. The Sharyland crowd went ballistic as she made her way to the charity stripe. With her team’s playoff position at stake, Salinas prayed for accuracy.
“I was praying saying ‘please God let me make this shot. Please let me make this shot.’ I wanted to make it for my team,” Salinas said.
With the pressure of victory riding on this final free throw, Salinas rose to the occasion and drained the winning shot for her Lady Rattlers.
“When I saw that long pass and lay up I was saying ‘please go in,’” Whitaker admitted. “Honestly we practice that all the time. [Salinas] was good with her footwork and it was perfect.”Share this post:
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