By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
January 8, 2015
The Port Isabel Tarpons basketball group scored two points on a pair of free throws before the game actually started and beat the Grulla Gators, 68-51, Tuesday night in Tarpon Gym.
The Gators’ official team lineup in the scorebook initially showed two players with the number 32. That’s a technical foul, and the Tarpons’ George Oceguera sank both free throws for a 2-0 Port Isabel lead before the game even tipped off.
The Tarpons led 8-2 early and 19-12 at the end of a quarter of play. The visiting Gators won the second quarter, 15-11, but the home team maintained the lead and was up 30-27 at the break.
“Tonight was our first complete game,” Port Isabel High School Head Basketball Coach Nathan Janak said afterwards. “We told the guys we want to force them to shoot from the outside. And don’t let any base-line drives to the basket happen. That’s what was happening in the first half. We stopped that in the third quarter.”
From the start of the season, Janak has emphasized a game philosophy of playing with a purpose, an attitude, a passion, and more intensity than the other team.
“And tonight, in that second half, we finally flipped a switch and we did it,” Janak said. “We always talk about coming out after halftime and winning the third quarter and, in my opinion, that’s the most important quarter of the game. We really locked them down in the third quarter.”
The Tarpons picked up on the speed and intensity of their game and outscored Grulla 16-9 in the third quarter for a 10-point lead, 46-36, at the start of the fourth quarter. They led by as many as 18 points twice, 63-45 and 65-47, in the fourth quarter.
Often it’s one player who makes a great play and gets it started. “Jose Atkinson got a steal over there … flying out of bounds, and then George Oceguera did it … and they all started doing it. It lifted the energy of the entire team and gave us a boost,” said Janak.
Oceguera led all scorers with 30 points, including two three-pointers, and was 6 for 6 at the line. Oceguera and Micheal Moore led the team with 10 rebounds each.
“There was one play where he (Oceguera) had three offensive rebounds of his own misses, and that was the second hustle play I referred to earlier. It happens fast, and that’s how we want to play the game. The game is played fast and finally tonight I think the guys were able to handle that speed really well.”
So well, in fact, that around the five-minute mark of the final quarter, the Tarpons got consecutive buckets by Fernie Lopez, Oceguera, and Atkinson with two steals in between by Lopez and Atkinson — all in the span of less than 18 seconds.
Jose Atkinson was the Tarpons’ second-leading scorer with 12 points (two three’s); he had eight rebounds, four steals and four assists. Chris Garza scored nine points, grabbed six boards, stole the ball twice and blocked two shots. Isaiah Juaregui scored six points and had a pair of rebounds.
The Tarpons lost their district opener last Friday at Raymondville, 51-48, and with Tuesday’s win are even in district play at 1-1. They will be on the road at Hidalgo this Friday (Jan. 9) and will return to Tarpon Gym the following Tuesday for a game against Progreso.
Grulla won both the JV and Freshmen games by the scores of 60-42 and 55-41, respectively.
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