By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel Tarpons were outscored 59-43 in a non-district boys’ basketball game last Friday night in Tarpon Gym.
It was another fast-paced game for the Tarpons, and in the second half it was the Bulldogs of Lyford who were better able to maintain the pace and hold off a determined Port Isabel squad.
“It wasn’t the kind of game I expected,” new head coach Anthony Velarde said at Saturday morning’s practice. “We really came out flat. Some of it was the fact that I got some new guys in that don’t understand everything we’re trying to do.”
Five of Velarde’s players also play football and did not join the basketball team until the start of last week. That automatically put them behind the rest of the team in getting into condition for a different type of game and learning a new system.
“These guys are young,” Velarde said. “They’re athletes and they’re able to adjust. It won’t take them long to get into basketball shape.”
Port Isabel trailed 13-8 at the end of the first quarter, 27-12 at halftime, and 40-33 at the start of the fourth quarter.
It did not look good for the home team in the first half but in the third quarter the Tarpons fought hard to get back into it. Three times in that quarter P.I. got within seven points of the lead, the last time on Jose Atkinson’s half-court three-point buzzer beater.
“We gave them easy baskets on the layups,” Atkinson said Saturday morning. “Every time they’d go down the lane we’d just follow them or we’d just give them an easy lay-up.”
“It was wild and it was fun,” Velarde told the Press Saturday. “We’ve seen glimpses of what they (the Tarpons) can do, and we’re trying to put it all together, and we will shortly.”
“We played an athletic team and when we fell behind we were forced to do some things we’re not ready to do right now. We pressed and trapped ourselves back into contention, but we were so exhausted we just ran out of gas. There wasn’t much left in the tank.”
The Bulldogs led by as many as 18 three times in the decisive fourth quarter.
Coach Velarde again emphasized how pleased he is with the effort put forth by this team. “The effort was there. They were out of gas but they were still working and working. And that’s what I wanted – I wanted us to finish the game. I wanted to finish with a great effort.”
Last Friday’s game was the last one at home for the guys until after Christmas. The Tarpons played at Donna North on Tuesday, and will be at IDEA Quest next Tuesday, Dec. 1. Tournaments at Lyford (Dec. 3-5) and La Feria (Dec. 10-12) are on for next month. Games at Brownsville Frontier (Tuesday, Dec. 8) and at La Villa (Friday, Dec. 18) will also be played before the team returns to Tarpon Gym for a rematch with Brownsville Frontier two days before New Year’s Eve on Tuesday, Dec. 29.
The district season will begin on Jan. 2 with a home game against Raymondville.
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