Southwest wins eight in a row
The unsung hero of Southwest’s first-place run in District 28-5A may be Matt Elliott.
Third-year Dragons basketball coach Caesar Smith credits football coach Elliott’s players for giving Southwest (11-10, 6-0) a boost that kicked in for district season. Southwest won its eighth-consecutive game by knocking Harlan out of first place 53-44 on Jan. 4 at Harlan District Gym.
“The football kids are the ones,” Smith said. “Coach Elliott does such a great job with them. Their leadership and (teamwork) has helped us. They gave us depth.”
Damian Lopez, the Dragons’ quarterback, and wide receivers Andrew Mitchell and Ricardo Coronado returned to the basketball team shortly after helping Southwest win the district football title and reach the area round in the playoffs.
They rejoined a veteran team with Vincent Fraga (13 points), Jose Casteneda (13 points, seven rebounds, three steals).and 6-foot-6 post Nathan Hernandez (10 points, 19 rebounds, two blocked shots).
“Everybody has bought into what coach Smith is teaching us,” Fraga said. “It’s going to be ugly, but it’s going to be our style.”
Southwest’s style is a disciplined, defensive-oriented approach. It pulled the Dragons through when Fraga aggravated a back injury with 2:23 left in the third quarter and the score tied 32-32.
“We knew the plays they were going to run,” Fraga said. “We just had to execute.”
The Hawks were within 38-37 when Zarion Pitre (13 points) nailed a pull-up jump shot with 6:20 remaining. In a spurt of seven unanswered points, Castenada stole the ball on two consecutive possessions, leading to a layup from Coronado and a free throw from Lopez. The senior point guard added a free throw with 2:49 left.
Southwest — which defeated Central Catholic (14-9) 54-51 in a non-district game Jan. 2 — increased its lead to 10 points with a rebound basket from Hernandez and a pair of free throws from Angel Ybarra. Fraga returned to score the Dragons’ last two points from the foul stripe.
“I’m really proud of the way the guys have (embraced) game preparation,” Smith said. “It’s a great start, but we have a long run ahead of us.”
Harlandale 63, Kerrville Tivy 45
Caleb Garcia scored 35 points and Chris Benavidez added 10, leading the Indians (14-6, 5-1) to an impressive District 26-5A win at Kerrville Tivy (12-8, 2-4) on Jan. 4.
Harlandale established a 30-21 halftime lead over the Antlers.
The Indians also edged Kennedy (8-17, 3-4) 53-51 on Jan. 2 in a 27-5A matchup at Harlandale. Steven Ruiz scored a game-high 19 points for Harlandale, and Benavidez added 13.
Kennedy was led by 16 points from Chris Gonzales and 10 from Cliff Lopez.
The Rockets defeated Seguin (6-17, 1-5) 69-54 on Jan. 4 at Kennedy behind 27 points from Lopez and 15 from Gonzales.
Edison 60, Fox Tech 27
The Golden Bears (7-17, 3-3) picked up a pair of District 27-5A wins, defeating Lanier (6-18, 0-6) 59-50 on Jan. 2 and Fox Tech (2-18, 0-7) on Jan. 4. Both games were played at Alamo Convocation Center.
Izaya Pena (16 points), Rob Elliott (12) and Matthew Guerrero (11) all scored in double figures for Edison against Fox Tech. Tony Martinez led the Buffaloes with 11.
Against Lanier, Pena scored a game-high 18 points. Elliott and Andrew Garcia chipped in 15 apiece.
Jesus Lares (17 points) and Benny Martinez (11) were Lanier’s top scorers.