Cardinals’ rebounding overcomes obstacles
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Southside.
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Southside’s style may be a bit unconventional, but it’s hard to knock down a team that remains undefeated in District 29-5A.
The Cardinals (11-6, 3-0) defeated Laredo Martin (4-11, 1-2) 57-38 Jan. 2 at Southside. They’ve won their first three 29-5A games by a combined 40 points and are tied for first with Laredo Cigarroa (3-0 in district), but that doesn’t mean it has been a breeze.
Southside committed 37 turnovers against the Tigers, but forced 33. The Cardinals gained a lot of extra possessions, however, by outrebounding Martin 53-22. They scored 10 points off rebounds.
“I had to chew them out at halftime,” first-year Southside coach Jessica Macias-Cardenas said. “We came out flat. They responded really well in the second half – especially in the fourth quarter.”
Laredo Martin (3-0 in district) incurred its second loss after beginning the week undefeated in the district. Macias-Cardenas anticipated that the Tigers would contend for the 29-5A title.
Southside separated itself from the Tigers with a 26-5 run, that included the last 11 points in the third quarter. It began in response to five unanswered points from Laredo Martin post Leslie Mares (21 points, 11 rebounds). The Tigers led 30-27 at that stage.
“We just didn’t play well enough,” Laredo Martin coach Frank Gonzalez said. “For three quarters, we were right there. Then we missed some free throws and gave up some layups.
“We had some turnovers and missed some layups that we normally don’t do.”
Southside led 22-20 at halftime, then scored on a 15-foot jumper from Desirae Arocha (17 points, 12 rebounds, 4 steals) and a basket from Klarissa Quintana (16 points, 4 steals, 4 assists).
Arocha and Amalia Alexander (6 points, 14 rebounds) scored off rebounds at the start of the Cardinals’ breakout run. Mayra Sendejo added a fast-break basket and a three-point play that built a 38-29 lead.
Laredo Martin missed the front end of four one-and-one free throw opportunites in the first four minutes of the final quarter. Meanwhile, the Cardinals lead grew to 42-32.
Sendejo (14 points, 10 rebounds, 7 steals) nailed four free throws and Arocha put back another rebound to push it to 20 with 2:06 to play.
“If we had started off like that, it wouldn’t have been a ballgame,” Macias-Cardenas said. “We let them stay in the game. At one point in the third quarter, we started playing the way we usually play.
“That’s the thing for us. We play down to other team’s levels. Once we realized it shouldn’t even have been (close), it was a totally different ballgame.”
Southside will play host to Laredo Cigarroa at 7 p.m. Friday.