By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel Tarpons basketball team lost a 69-46 decision to the Zapata Hawks in Tarpon Gym Tuesday night in the sixth district game for both teams.
The Tarpons remain winless in district play for the season and currently stand 0-6 in the District 32-4A standings. Zapata improves to 3-3 and is fifth behind La Feria and Hidalgo, both 5-1 and tied for first place; and Grulla and Rio Hondo, who are tied for third at 4-2. Progreso (2-4) and Raymondville (1-5) stand sixth and seventh.
“They came out and shot red hot,” first-year head coach Anthony Velarde told the Press after the game. “We came back in the second half and played much better – outscored them in the third quarter. We hung with them in the fourth quarter but it was too little, too late. We dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t get out of.”
The Hawks made consecutive three’s to jump out to a 6-0 first quarter lead and led 10-0 before Port Isabel got its first bucket. The visitors led 18-3 and 20-7 at the start of the second quarter.
Zapata is fast and athletic and took advantage of every Tarpon miscue.
“I wasn’t happy with our defensive effort in the first half,” Velarde said Tuesday night. “We let bad defense turn into bad offense. Good teams can’t do that.”
Zapata led 37-16 at the half and 48-32 at the end of the third quarter. The Tarpons outscored the Hawks 16-11 in the third quarter and scored almost twice as many points in the second half as they did before the break. But the damage had already been done.
Fernie Lopez led the Tarpons with 17 points. Jose Atkinson scored 10 points and Jeremy Martinez had nine. Lopez got eight steals and Martinez had two blocks.
The visiting Hawks led by as many as 26, 42-16, in the third quarter, before the Tarpons fought back. They scored eight straight points, including three-pointers by Martinez, Lopez, and Ed Landa, at the buzzer, and closed within 16, 48-32. That was as close as they came and that was a final, 69-46.
The Tarpons freshmen team won, 53-44, and the Port Isabel JV guys also won, 36-30.
“It wasn’t so much their initial steals – they were beating us to loose balls,” Velarde said. “We let guys get behind us for easy baskets and back door opportunities and that’s not characteristic of us. They looked quicker because, I thought, they were more aggressive. We were giving up rebounds, giving them second and third opportunities and they were making us pay.”
The P.I. freshmen team lost at home to La Feria, 49-30, last Friday. The JV squad won 38-36 in overtime and the varsity lost 56-41.
The team had two days to practice and get ready for Friday’s game at Rio Hondo.
“We’ll work on our regular stuff but we’ll put emphasis on some offensive passing drills … free throw shooting. And we’ll work on our rebounding. Our boxing out was atrocious.”
The team will be on the road again at Raymondville next Tuesday to begin the second half of district play, and will return to Tarpon Gym next Friday for the rematch with Grulla.
Want the whole story? Pick up a copy of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.