Buttons’ Aguilar sinks winning foul shot
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Central Catholic.
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After absorbing a 26-point loss to Central Catholic Jan. 31 at home, Brownsville St. Joseph knew a different approach was called for Saturday.
St. Joseph employed a 1-3-1 trapping zone at Central Catholic that proved to be the great equalizer. The Bloodhounds took the host Buttons to overtime, but junior guard Raul Aguilar supplied the winning free throw with 1.8 seconds for a 56-55 TAPPS 2-5A win.
The challenge may have been just what Central Catholic (20-15, 4-2) needed as it prepared to face a tough 1-5A, Dallas Bishop Lynch (20-14), at 4:30 p.m. Friday in College Station. The Buttons finished second in district.
“We had some guys make plays (in overtime),” Central Catholic coach Bruce McConaghy said. “Their coach did a good job. We’d make a three-point play, then they’d get a three(-pointer).”
Central Catholic had already sewn up second place in the district, but Brownsville St. Joseph (17-11, 1-5) threatened to sap its playoff momentum.
The Bloodhounds had a chance to seize the lead after Central senior Jaime Nava (9 points) split two free throws with 25.4 seconds left in overtime. Aguilar (16 points) poked the ball away on the potential go-ahead shot and then hustled to claim the rebound.
“He does a great job of that,” McConaghy said. “Raul is very intuitive.”
Aguilar made one of the two resulting foul shots to finalize the win. St. Joseph wasn’t able to release a final shot.
“I don’t usually think of myself that way,” Aguilar said of being in position to win the game. “But it’s a free throw. You should be able to make a free throw.”
For most of the afternoon, shots weren’t falling for Central Catholic. That changed midway through the third quarter when Nava, Aguilar and sophomore Julian Rodriguez (8 points) made three-point baskets on consecutive possessions for a 28-28 tie.
“Our coach gave us the green light to keep shooting,” Aguilar said. “We knew they had to start falling eventually.”
That silenced a 15-4 Bloodhounds run that spanned the second and third quarter, but didn’t stifle the visitors . St. Joseph led 19-16 at halftime.
“The last time we played man-to-man,” Brownsville St. Joseph coach Sammy Lucio said, “but they’re a little too quick for us. We decided, as a coaching staff, to slow it down. We missed a few shots at the end, but our defense kept us in the game.”
Off a pass from Rodriguez, Aguilar nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key with 1:31 left in the fourth quarter. Central Catholic led 44-42, but St. Joseph freshman Kai Money (16 points) sent it to overtime with a pair of free throws.
Rodriguez fed Robert Elizondo (9 points) for a layup and drew a foul off an Aguilar steal. The sophomore’s free throw provided a 53-46 cushion with 1:26 left in overtime. The Bloodhounds’ Jorge Villarreal (15 points) and Money each made three-pointers to usher in the dramatic final moments.
“I think some of us thought it’d be easy because we beat them by 20 or 30 down there,” Aguilar said. “We were a little slow at the start.”