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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, December 28, 2007

Pecos girls lose player, game at Midland Lee

The Pecos Eagle girls will be headed to Sweetwater on Saturday for their final basketball game of 2007, an afternoon contest against the Mustangs, whom the Eagles could see again in 2008, during the Class 3A playoffs.

But whether or not Pecos will be making the trip with a full team remains to be seen, following last Friday’s 47-21 loss in Midland to the Lee Rebels.

Leading scorer Gabby Garcia suffered a knee injury early in the second quarter of the game, in which the Eagles already were struggling against the Rebels. “She supposedly strained her ACL. She’s going to try and go through practice on Friday, and see how it goes,” said Eagles’ coach Donna Gent.

“She and another girl were going for the ball that was in the air and the other girl Gabby was in front of looked like her knee hit Gabby’s knee,” Gent said. “Their trainer looked at it, and he felt like she just got a good hit on the knee.

“He said it was still tight, and said it would be sore for a couple of days, but he didn’t think it was very serious and when doc (Eagles’ trainer Joel Birch) looked at it, he didn’t think it was that bad.”

Garcia was averaging 14 points a game going in to last Friday’s game in Midland, but none of the Eagles were able to score in the opening period, while the Rebels put in 14 points.

“The night before against Midland High they had come out and not hit anything, but on Friday they hit everything,” Gent said. “They had a little girl in the first quarter (Audra Howard) who hit four 3s, and then another one in the second quarter (Laura Williams) hit a couple more.”

Defensively, the Rebels shut down Pecos’ offense in the first half. “We only shot three times in the first quarter and we only shot five in the second quarter,” Gent said. “They were playing really tight man-to-man and we couldn’t get the ball off, and when Gabby went down the girls were just stunned.”

Midland held a 27-4 lead at the half, while outscoring Pecos 20-17 in the final two periods.

“We came out in the third quarter and scored 10 points and looked like we were going to make a comeback, but we only scored seven in the final period,” Gent said. “Defensively they were also a lot taller than us, so they also did better rebounding.”

Diana Parada, who played at Midland Lee two years ago, led Pecos with eight points, while Jasmine Rayos had five points. Howard’s 12 led Lee, while Shay O’Neal was the other Rebel in double figures with 10.

The Eagles dropped to 7-8 on the season with their loss, going into their game against Sweetwater, which will play Eldorado on Friday after edging Andrews, 60-59, in their final game before the Christmas break.

Kayla McKinney led the Mustangs with 26 points and Bennie Smith added 14 in the win over Andrews, in which Sweetwater rallied from a 12-point first half deficit. Midland Lee also won last Friday’s junior varsity game by a 30-28 score. Olivia Castilleja led Pecos with 18 points.

Eagles’ offense hibernates in 42-37 loss to Jal

The Pecos Eagles’ offense was ice cold on the first day of winter, last Friday night against the Jal Panthers.

The Eagles, who scored 61 points in a win over Jal two weeks earlier, could manage just one point in the first period and seven in the first half against the Panthers on their own court Friday. Fortunately for Pecos, Jal wasn’t doing much better, scoring just 16 points in the first half. But the Panthers were able to build as much as a 15 point lead in the third quarter, and after a fourth quarter comeback by the Eagles tied the score with 1:33 to play, the Panthers were able to find openings for a pair of lay-ups by Phillip Little, the latter with nine seconds left the put Jal ahead to stay in what ended up as a 42-37 victory.

“That first quarter I told the kids was just a lack of focus,” said Eagles’ coach Sammy Soliz, who added that the Eagles problems were both on offense and defense. “We were not focused on who’s got who,” he said. “The whole game plan was to concentrate on 52 (Eric Whelplay). He’s their best post guy, but Timo (Reyes, one of the Eagles’ two starting guards) wound up guarding him. We just didn’t have focus the whole game, and that was all the guys. I put the bench in there, and put Chris (Sotelo) in trying to give us some spark, but we still struggled.”

The Eagles’ only point of the first period was a free throw by Sotelo with 4:49 left in the quarter. Pecos by then was down 5-0 on a lay-up by Whelplay and a 3-point jumper by Armundo Lujan, but the only points the rest of the period turned out to be a rebound lay-up by Whelplay. The Eagles then took just 18 seconds to get a basket in the second period, as Paul Zubeldia scored on a lay-up, but their only other points of the period would come midway through the quarter, on a pair of steals and lay-ups by J.R. Lujan.

Lujan had three straight steals in that stretch, as Pecos got to within 10-7, but two Whelplay lay-ups and a James Locklar jumper would be the only points during the final three minutes, and allowed Jal to grab a nine-point halftime lead.

“We never ran through our offense until I called a time-out. The majority of it was just going 1-on-1 and putting a shot up. We weren’t running the offense long enough to go to the second or third option,” Soliz said.

Jal’s margin would grow to 15 points, at 31-16, late in the third period, on a couple of baskets by Alfredo Granado, before the Eagles finally started their comeback. Baskets by Zubeldia and Lujan closed out the period, but Pecos was still down by 11 with five minutes remaining when Lujan scored on a rebound basket, Sotelo had a steal and lay-up and Timo Reyes added a lay-up off a Sotelo pass to make it 33-28.

Whelplay broke the streak with a lay-up with 2:52 to play, but Lujan then hit a pair of field goals, Sotelo connected on a 3-point shot and Lujan then scored on a steal and lay-up to tie the game with 1:33 remaining.

That’s when the Eagles interior defense failed. Little scored on a lay-up off an inbounds pass with 1:10 left to put the Panthers up 37-35, and after Reyes found Zubeldia for a lay-up with 26 seconds to play, the Panthers called time out and again worked the ball in to Little, who hit a lay-up at the nine second mark.

Pecos then called time out, but Jal pressured the Eagles on the inbounds and Edgardo Madrid ended up throwing the ball away. That forced Pecos to foul little, who hit both free throws with 4.4 seconds left, and he would connect once more from the line with nine-tenths of a second remaining, when the Eagles again couldn’t handle the inbounds pass, this time with the ball going off Sotelo and out of bounds.

The loss left Pecos with a 4-9 record going into the Christmas break. Their next game won’t be until Jan. 4, when they face Nazareth in the opening round of the Brian Wilson Tournament in Alpine. The Eagles will face the two-time defending Class A-Division II champs in an 8 a.m. game at the Pete Gallego Center at Sul Ross State University.

“I’m from that area, so I’m very familiar with the way they play basketball. They’ve got to very tall kids who are gym rats,” Soliz said.

Pecos did win last Friday’s junior varsity game, by a 47-24 final score. Luis Morales led Pecos with 13 points.

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