By Larry Gage
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel Tarpons basketball team tried hard to come back against the Hidalgo Pirates but came up short in the end, 58-52, Tuesday night on the road.
The Tarpons’ downfall came partly as the result of a slow and sloppy start as they fell into a 17-0 hole in the first quarter of the game. Cole Pinkerton finally got PI on the board with a pair of free throws with 2:36 to go in the quarter. He followed up with a three-pointer, Daniel Rinza added another three, but at the end of the opening period Hidalgo was out in front, 24-8.
“They jumped on us right at the start,” head Tarpon coach, Mike Hazelton said afterwards. “We hung in there and we tried to battle back. (We) did the best we could. Seventeen-zip. It’s hard to recover from something like that. It’s not an easy thing to do.”
Port Isabel turned the ball over on its first five possessions while the Pirates came out hot and looked very much like the district champion team that they have been in recent seasons. They hit three three-pointers in the first quarter, two more in the second, and doubled the Tarpons up on the score, 32-16, at halftime.
It was more of the same in the second half. Hidalgo led 48-27 at the end of three quarters.
In the fourth quarter Daniel Rinza and Will Camacho combined to make three of four foul shots on a technical with under two minutes to go, Rinza hit a three at the buzzer, and that was a final, 58-52.
It was the Tarpons first loss in district play and they are now 3-1 in league games, 18-6 overall.
Rinza led the Tarpons with 19 points and Cole Pinkerton scored 11.
“Sometimes you need a game like this … a wake up call,” Pinkerton said after the game. “It sucks to lose, it really does. They’re an excellent team but I’m not going to say they’re better (than us). We came out horrible – we had no ball movement, no momentum. They broke down our defense. We picked it up in the second half but it was a little too late.”
“This is one of the hardest places in the district to play in,” senior postman Jason Lowe said. “They started off hot. All through the season we’ve started off slow. We’ll figure it out.”
The Tarpon JV Dark team won its game, 53-35. The JV Light squad lost, 55-38. The Darks improve to 2-2 in district play and the Lights drop to 0-4.
Last Friday at home the Tarpons ran away from an overmatched RGC Grulla team, 81-39.
Rio Hondo will pay a call at Tarpon Gym this Friday for the fifth league game for both teams.
“We’ve got a huge game this Friday against Rio Hondo,” Hazelton said. “They put a lot of ball pressure on you, and that’s hard to get used to.”
“Rio Hondo’s a really good team,” Pinkerton told the Press. “Hopefully we can take them and keep moving forward.”