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The Eagles have stayed close to several teams, including the Fort
Stockton Panthers, until they get into the low 40s, then seem to run out
of gas, allowing the other team to pull away in the final period.
But on Tuesday night, the Eagles were the team getting to the balls in
the closing minutes, and they closed out the home portion of their
1996-97 basketball season with a 53-50 victory over the Panthers.
Jason Abila stole the ball twice in the final 2½ minutes and turned
them into lay-ups, and defected another pass to Fabien Adame, as the
Eagles held the Panthers scoreless after Josh Garcia hit from just
inside the 3-point line with 2:16 remaining.
Pecos had led Fort Stockton for most of the first half in their earlier
meeting, only to see the Panthers take over in the second half and post
a 73-58 victory. This time, Fort Stockton went out to a 39-30 lead late
in the third period, but the Eagles responded with 11 straight points to
grab a 41-39 lead.
"When it got to 41, I was worried, but I'm proud of the kids for
hanging in there," said Eagles' coach Mike Sadler. "They kept their
poise and shot better from the free throw line."
Abila had struggled in recent weeks, but had six of the Eagles' final
eight points on Tuesday. He rebounded his own miss and scored to break a
45-all tie with 3:13 to play, then stole an Emilio Perales pass and
scored with 2:28 to play, after a Perales 3-point gave Fort Stockton at
Abila was fouled by Perales, but missed from the foul line, and Garcia
was then fouled by Eric Abila on his basket at the 2:16 mark. But he
also bounced his free throw off the rim, and Omar Hinojos put Pecos
ahead for good with a lay-up at the 1:54 mark.
"I think his shin was still bothering him," Sadler said of a leg injury
that forced Abila out of Pecos' district-opener on Jan. 9 against
Andrews. "He's such a tough kid, he's not going to give in, but I think
it slowed him down."
After Adame pulled in Abila's deflection with 1:40 remaining, the
Eagles went into a delay, stalling for about a minute until Garcia was
able to trap Jason Abila in the corner and knock the ball off his leg
with 39.5 seconds to play. Fort Stockton then set up for a go-ahead
shot, but again, Abila stepped in front of a pass and went the other
way, scoring a drawing a foul from Stewart Robbins at the 16.1 second
That brought a storm of protest from Panthers' coach Dave Davalos, who
claimed that too many seconds had run off the clock. A photo of the play
appeared to back the first-year Panther coach up, as it shows 23.8
seconds on the clock when Abila took the shot. But the officials ruled
against Davalos, though Abila's miss gave the Panthers a shot at sending
the game to overtime...
...or two shots at sending it there, as it turned out. Fort Stockton
worked the ball into the corner, but Chavez missed on a shot challenged
by Abila. However, the rebound bounced out to a wide-open Perales near
the top of the key. But with an open shot to tie, Perales missed, and
Adame pulled in the rebound as time expired.
Adame had been hampered by fouls in the first half, but Hinojos took up
the slack. The junior bounced back from a rough night against Big Spring
to score a game-high 21 points, including a 7-for-9 night from the foul
line, after a 1-for-7 effort on Friday.
He had a trio of lay-ups in the first period, while Jacob Chavez and
Eric Abila hit from the 3-point line, as the Eagles built an 18-13 lead.
Pecos carried the momentum into the second period and had several
chances to score, but saw their shots bounce out, while the Panthers
began getting baskets off backside offensive rebounds.
Eric Lopez had three of those, including one in the third period, as
the Panthers built a 35-26 lead. They would get it back to nine, later
in the quarter, after the Eagles cut the gap to five, but after a time
out by Sadler, two Hinojos baskets closed the third period, and he then
opened the fourth quarter with another, cutting the margin to three. He
then drew a charge on Aaron Cabello, and after a turn-around jumper by
Adame cut the lead to one, Chavez' 3-point basket gave the Eagles the
lead, and put them at that problem 41-point mark.
After handing Sweetwater its first district loss a week earlier (on a
basket the Mustangs complained had come after time had run out), the
Panthers have now lost two straight, and are 4-5 in district, 20-8 on
the season. But they still control their own fate, provided they win
their final regular season game on Friday at home against Big Spring.
The Steers clinched a playoff spot with a 71-66 victory at Lake View,
while Andrews is also still in the playoff race, despite their 96-76
loss to Sweetwater.
The Eagles will be in Sweetwater on Friday to close out their 1996-97
season. "If we had won one of those other games, we'd still be in the
playoff race," Sadler said. "Now we just have to go over there and do a
good job Friday night and set things up for next year."
Fort Stockton's freshman survived a last-second 3-point try by Kenneth
Terry to win their game Tuesday, 45-43, while the Panthers' junior
varsity defeated the Eagles, 65-28. Terry and Jomar Gallego led the
ninth graders with 12 points, while Orlando Matta and Frank Perea topped
the JV with seven apiece.
FORT STOCKTON (50)
Velasquez 0 0-0 0; Perales 3 0-1 7; Leyva 1 0-0 2; Lopez 4 2-2 10;
Fabela 2 0-0 4; Garcia 2 0-1 5; Herrera 1 0-0 2; Robbins 4 0-0 8; Hamlin
0 0-0 0; Cabello 5 0-0 10. Totals 23 2-4 50.
E. Abila 2 1-2 7; J. Abila 5 0-2 10; Martinez 0 0-0 0; Hinojos 7 7-9 21;
Garcia 0 0-0 0; Adame 2 0-0 4; Marquez 0 0-0 0; Navarrete 1 0-0 2;
Chavez 3 0-0 9. Totals 20 8-13 53
Fort Stockton 13 16 10 11 -50
Pecos 18 8 8 19 -53
Three-point goals: Fort Stockton 2 (Perales, Garcia), Pecos 5 (Chavez 3,
E. Abila 2). Fouled out: None. Total fouls: Fort Stockton 15, Pecos 12.
Playing at home, the boys jumped out to a 25-12 lead after one period
and held a comfortable margin the rest of the way, as they defeated the
Cowboys, 69-55. Earlier, the girls stayed close to Grandfalls for three
period, but the Cowgirls were able to hold the Bears to just five points
in the final period and won, 56-39.
The ninth win in a row for the boys came behind a 22 point effort from
Scott Clark and 13 points apiece by Kevin Castillo and Zane Rhyne. The
Bears upped their 13 point margin after one period to 19 at the half, at
43-24, before the Cowboys cut it back to 55-38 after three periods and
to 14 points at the finish.
"Sometimes you don't get a chance to get your subs in, so I was able to
give them some playing time," said Bears' coach Michael Barrandey, whose
team improved to 16-2 on the season.
The second straight district title for the Bears will match them up
against the runner-up team from District 30-A, either Garden City or
Irion County, who play on Friday. But Balmorhea's bi-district match-up
isn't scheduled until the weekend of Feb. 21, so Barrandey said he'll be
looking to schedule a playoff practice game before then.
"I'll call around and see if we can get a game," said the Bears' coach,
who might not know until next week who his bi-district opponent is, if
Irion County wins on Friday. Garden City won the first half of District
30-A play, and a Irion County victory would force a one-game playoff for
the district title.
Corey Moore led all scorers with 33 points for Grandfalls, which ended
district play in third place, with a 2-4 record. Buena Vista won second
in District 29-A and defeated Marathon on Tuesday. They'll face the 30-A
runner up in two weeks.
Balmorhea's girls had a shot at tying Grandfalls for third in the final
standings, and stayed close for a while. They trailed by five after one
period, and were down just 20-19 at the half. The Cowgirls got the lead
back up to five after three periods, then broke things open with a 17-5
"In the last quarter the girls started turning the ball over and making
some mistakes," Barrandey said. "But they're still a young team."
Cherry Garcia had 16 points for the Bears, who finished at 0-6 in
district, 5-13 overall. Laura Porras had 23 to lead Grandfalls, which
wound up 2-4 in district play.
The West of the Pecos 3-On-3 Men's Tournament will begin at 8:30 a.m.
on Feb. 15 in the new Pecos High School gym, and will be divided into
18-30 and 30-and-over age groups, according to Eagles' basketball coach
Patty Hall. Entry fee will be $50 per team or $15 per person, with a
limit of four persons per team.
For further information, call either Hall at the PHS gym, at 447-7234,
or Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Athletic Director Mike Belew, at 447-7220.
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State and Regional Sports Pages--San Angelo Standard-Times
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