By Larry Gage
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel Tarpons came out gunning Tuesday night against the visiting Cardinals of La Villa. They outscored La Villa in every quarter and won the non-district contest, 98-51, in Tarpon Gym.
The three-point shot seemed to be a big part of the offensive game plan as the Tarpons made a total of 11 on the night. Dennis Lozano set the tone from long range by making five treys, including three in the first quarter.
La Villa scored first and led 2-0 and 4-2. Lozano hit his first three ninety seconds in to put the Tarpons up 5-4, and they led the rest of the way.
Port Isabel led 25-12 at the end of the first quarter, 49-23 at the half, and 78-35 at the start of the fourth quarter.
“We’ve just got to keep pushing and never underestimate any team, because you never know what can happen,” Lozano said after the game.
Lozano led all scorers with 21 points, including five threes. Daniel Rinza scored 18 points, Cole Pinkerton had 16 (three of which were 3-pointers), Kaiden Martinez put up 14 points (two of which were 3-pointers), and Jason Lowe had eight points.
Only nine players dressed for the game but head coach Mike Hazelton was still able to keep fresh bodies on the floor throughout by rotating the lineup.
“I’d put them in in groups, two minutes, and they were fresh,” Hazelton said. “We played nine guys and they all played probably the same amount of time. We sprinkled in some of the veterans with the newer guys. Then we had an all big lineup one time, then we went with a smaller lineup.”
Jason Lowe could see the wisdom of that kind of strategy.
“They’re always a solid squad,” Lowe told the Press afterwards. “Switching out different lineups is pretty important so we can keep our momentum.”
Part of that momentum was contributed by Lowe when he slammed one home with authority, halfway through the first quarter and the Tarpons led at that point 17-7. The lead was 40, 66-26, with three minutes to go in the third period, when Cole Pinkerton hit a three, and the final margin of victory, 47 points, equaled Port Isabel’s biggest lead of the night.
“Lately we’ve been starting off slow but tonight we came out strong,” Pinkerton said. “Dennis (Lozano) was on fire – I think he was our leading scorer.”
With the win the Tarpons improve to 8-4 on the season. Three of those wins came in last week’s tournament at Hidalgo. On Friday P.I. beat Harlingen South, 44-39. Port Isabel started off with a 47-19 win over IDEA Academy/Donna, and followed up that one by beating Lyford, 91-53. The Tarpons lost their last two games at Hidalgo to PSJA North, 72-52, and 43-28 to Donna.
Port Isabel beat La Villa 61-23 in the JV game Tuesday night.
The Tarpons have a rematch with Lyford at Lyford this Friday and will be at Santa Maria next Tuesday. A game at PSJA Memorial is on for Friday, December 20, and the team will play in a post-Christmas tournament in Kingsville the last weekend of the year. Port Isabel will open district play at Raymondville on Friday, January 3.