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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Friday, February 8, 2002

Eagles miss late chances, free throws in 39-34 loss

Staff Writer

It's been a while since the Pecos Eagles were in a position to steal  a victory. But that's where Pecos was with 30 seconds left in  Thursday night's game against the San Elizario Eagles, except that the host  Eagles didn't know how to finish off the job.

Pecos, which had been outscored in the first quarter of their last two home games, 48-8, held San Elizario scoreless for the first 7½ minutes of their final regular season game on Thursday. But the Eagles weren't scoring too many points themselves, and fell behind by seven points in the second quarter, and trailed by 11 once, late in the third period and were down by nine with only 1:13 to play.

But Pecos then outscored the visiting Eagles 6-0 over the next 39 seconds, capped by a basket by Natalia Ornelas than resulted in San Eli guard Nicole Aruajo fouling out with 34.6 seconds to play.

That left the visitors up 37-34 and with only four players available when Ornelas went to the foul line. But the sophomore missed her free throw _ the 23rd miss of the night for Pecos in 27 foul shot attempts _ and the Eagles were unable to either steal the ball or foul despite a 5-on-4 advantage, allowing a Crystal Martinez lay-up in the closing seconds, as San Eli escaped with a 39-34 victory to force a playoff for third place with El Paso Mountain View tonight.

"They didn't know how to react," said coach Veronica Valenzuela. "We were supposed to have one girl following the ball all over the court, but that didn't happen.

"I think they thought it was pretty much over when they were down by nine, and when we got back into it they were shocked," said Valenzuela, whose team had gone 0-9 in District 2-4A play going into Thursday night's game, with no game closer than 11 points.

While the Eagles still had problems on offense, managing just four points in the first period and 10 in the first half, they did avoid most of the turnovers against the full court press that had left them trailing Canutillo by 21 points and Mountain View by 19 after one period of their last two home games.

"It wasn't as bad as it had been, but they could have played like that all year long," said Valenzuela.

San Eli did get a couple of steals during their 11-0 run that began in the final 30 seconds of the first period and continued for the first five minutes of the second period, until Tiana Terry hit two of Pecos' four made free throws on the night. Pecos was 2-for-5 from the line in the first half, which they ended down 14-10, but were 2-for-22 in the final two periods, when Araujo, Jessie Rivera and Eloysa Rodriguez all fouled out for San Eli.

Valerie Soto led all scorers with 18 points, despite her own problems from the line (2-for-8). She helped San Eli build a 23-12 lead in the third period, then hit a lay-up midway through the final period, after Pecos had cut the lead to 26-24 and missed two chances to tie the game.

Her lay-up with 1:36 left made it 35-26 with 1:36 left, and Pecos was still down 37-28 when Jessica Martinez scored off a short jumper at the 1:10 mark and Danielle Garcia scored on a corner jumper after San Eli was called for a five second violation. Ornelas then hit her lay-up following a steal by Christina Arenivas, but Soto was able to get the ball upcourt quickly after the missed foul shot, and Pecos then let San Eli run out the clock.

Terry led Pecos with 14 points and Ornelas had 10 for the Eagles, who finish the season with a 2-20 mark. San Eli improved to 6-4 in district and plays at Mountain View tonight, for the right to take on El Paso Riverside in the bi-district round of the Class 4A playoffs. Canutillo, the 2-4A runner-up, will play El Paso Ysleta in the bi-district round while district champion Clint draws a first-round bye.

Pecos to scrimmage Fort Stockton, OHS squads

The Pecos Eagles baseball team will get in their first scrimmage of the 2002 season today, then turn around and play their second Saturday afternoon, as the Eagles travel to Fort Stockton and then take on the Odessa High Bronchos.

The Eagles will take on the Panthers in Fort Stockton today at 4:30 p.m., in a game that was rained out on Tuesday. On Saturday, Pecos was scheduled to host Odessa Permian at 2 p.m., but instead will play a 2 p.m. scrimmage at Odessa High.

Pecos won the District 2-4A title last season, but were eliminated by Canyon in the area round of the Class 4A playoffs, the second year in a row the Eagles were ousted in the area round after advancing to the Region I-4A semifinals in 1999. This year, Eagles' coach Bubba Williams has most of his starters back from the 19-8 team of 2001 and said, "Right now the kids are looking very good. They're way ahead of where I thought they would be.

"They're hitting the ball good, and their attitude is good. I hope they can keep that up through the season, and I think they will this year," he said. "They think they can go further than they did last season, and all that comes from having a good attitude."

Pecos will be without four players from last year's team, Joey Ortega, Richard Rodriguez, Matthew Levario and Oscar Parada, who will be with the Eagles' basketball team in Fabens tonight. But Williams still have several other starters available, and will take a look at most of his pitchers this afternoon and Saturday.

"We'll take a look at all of them. Every pitcher we've got," said Williams. That group includes junior Barney Rodriguez, who went 8-1 last season, Capi Magana and Rigo Estrada, who both started and relieved for the Eagles last season. "All the pitchers will go a couple of innings, so we can save them for Saturday."

Saturday's scrimmage will be against Odessa High's junior varsity, and assistant coach Elias Payan said the varsity would play a little, but the freshman and junior varsity players would see most of the action. The Eagles are scheduled to face OHS' varsity next Saturday, after hosting Presidio in a scrimmage on Tuesday.


Pecos' varsity softball team also had their first scheduled scrimmage games rained out this past Tuesday, but will try again on Saturday when they go to Kermit to face the Yellowjackets and Sweetwater Mustangs.

Coach Tammy Walls' team will be seeking their fourth straight District 2-4A title, and will be at full strength in practice today for the first time, with the end of the Eagles' girls basketball season. However, Walls said Pecos' scheduled season opener next Tuesday at Alpine has been cancelled.

"They said they can't play because they made the (Class 3A basketball) playoffs," Walls said. The Eagles' season opener will now be next Thursday, in the opening round of the Andrews Invitational Tournament.

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