By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel High Lady Tarpons hoops squad came from behind to win their non-district basketball game against the La Villa Lady Cardinals, 36-32, Tuesday night at Tarpon Gym.
The Lady Tarpons were right with the Lady Cardinals at first, but the visitors broke out of an 8-8 tie to take a two-point lead at the end of the first quarter. They scored 11 of the next 13 points and looked as though they had every intention of blowing Port Isabel right out of its own gym.
“It was just a case of one of those nights (when) we weren’t shooting great and we were a little too aggressive on defense in the first half,” P.I. head coach Blake Ramsey said Wednesday. “We gave them easy buckets and a lot of their points came off free throws in that first half.”
La Villa led 21-12 at halftime and was in front 26-19 at the end of three. Port Isabel trailed by as many as nine, 28-19, seconds into the final quarter, and that’s when the comeback began.
Alex Martinez made consecutive baskets to draw her team within five, 28-23. Natasha Ramirez made a driving layup under heavy pressure to make it 28-25. Martinez stole a long pass and got slammed to the floor on a hard foul for her trouble. She made one of two free throw attempts, drained another foul shot seconds later, and Port Isabel was up, 33-31.
“We were able, after our steals, to be more under control and finish at the other end,” Ramsey said Wednesday. “In that fourth quarter we kept our composure and the girls just played hard.”
Ramirez sank another foul shot, Martinez made a nice layup off a turnover with seconds to play and that was a final, 36-32.
“We started stealing more,” Ramirez said afterwards. “It was our turnovers that killed us.” Ramirez was three-for-three from the floor and scored six of her eight points in the crucial fourth quarter.
“We didn’t start off very well,” Martinez said Wednesday. “We need to start off stronger. We have this bad habit – we like to turn on our jets and give everything we have only in the fourth quarter. When we got to the fourth quarter we knew that we had eight minutes to do this. We pulled it through and worked together.”
“Her shot … struggled in the first half,” Ramsey said, referring to Martinez. “She really stuck with it and kept her head. She’s a lot stronger mentally this year.”
“I told her (Ramirez) at halftime that I wanted her to be more decisive in the second half, and make better decisions and have that confidence,” Ramsey told the Press. “And in that fourth quarter she did. She didn’t have that fear of making mistakes. She had the confidence of knowing she was going to make that bucket.”
Martinez and Jasmine Saldivar led the team with four steals each and Ramirez matched her point total with eight rebounds. Martinez also had five rebounds.
The Lady Tarpons improved to 5-4 with the win and will play in this weekend’s three-day Tommy Wiseman Tournament in La Feria. Their first-round game will be at 6 p.m. Thursday against Edinburg Economedes.
Two games remain on the schedule before the start of the district season on Dec. 15. The team will be at IDEA Quest next Tuesday, the 8th, and will entertain Brownsville St. Joseph’s Academy on Friday, Dec. 11.
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