By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
January 22, 2015
The Port Isabel Tarpons took a long road trip to Zapata Tuesday night. They made it worth their while with a 54-45 win over the Hawks.
With this win, the Tarpons are now tied with Rio Hondo for fifth place in the standings of District 32-4A. Both teams have 2-4 league records. Hidalgo leads with a 6-0 district record and La Feria is next at 5-1. Progreso is at 4-2, and Raymondville, 3-3, rounding out the top four. PI and Rio Hondo follow closely behind. Then Zapata and Grulla bringing up the rear at 1-5. The top four teams in the final standings will qualify for the playoffs.
“We scored 19 points in the first quarter and we don’t do that very often – and especially being on the road,” head Tarpon coach Nathan Janak said Wednesday afternoon before practice. “The kids executed the plan right off the bat and that’s what led us to those easy baskets. Nick had eight points in the first quarter.”
Coach Janak was referring to sophomore player Nick Carrillo, who was brought back up after seeing limited varsity action earlier this season. Carrillo led the team in scoring Tuesday night with 19 points and made it a double-double with 10 rebounds.
The Tarpons led from the opening tip to the final buzzer. PI led 19-8 at the end of one quarter, 27-23 at the half, and 43-30 at the start of the fourth quarter.
“They made a little run on us in the second quarter and we … outscored them 16-7 in the third quarter,” Janak said. “We got up by as many as 15 about midway through the fourth quarter. We hung on and made some free throws down the stretch; Jeremy Martinez was 3-4 in the last two minutes … a freshman stepping up and kinda’ sealing the game for us,” added the coach.
Another freshman, Fernie Lopez, was next in the scoring column with 12 points and he pulled down six boards and handed out four assists. Jose Atkinson also turned in a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, and he also made three steals and gave out three assists. Michael Moore scored six and had 11 rebounds.
Port Isabel won the freshmen game, 40-38, and Zapata got the JV contest, 45-25.
“Our offensive game plan worked from the very beginning. We just … really out-positioned them and our kids made shots and got some rebounds and got some put-backs. We were really focused.”
Janak seemed extremely pleased with the way the team has come together; “The kids are 100% completely bought-in. They believe in what we’re doing and they’re working really hard in practice.”
Only seven players were officially available for duty at Zapata but Chris Garza, who has missed a few games for medical reasons, might be ready by Friday night. Garza is the team’s only senior.
“I’ve told our underclassmen it’s open door – if you can prove to me that you deserve to be on varsity, you’ll be on varsity.”
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