PHARR — Over the years, the rivalry on the hardwood between McAllen Rowe and PSJA North has developed into one of the Rio Grande Valley’s best in boys basketball.
With the top spot in District 30-6A up for grabs in Tuesday night’s grudge match, the intensity was turned up a notch as the Warriors (22-7) roared their way to a 64-49 win over the Raiders (25-6) at PSJA North High School. The loss is PSJA North’s first in district play as the Rowe victory creates a tie atop 30-6A with both teams 9-1.
How did the Warriors approach Tuesday against the Raiders?
“Straight business,” Rowe forward Louie Yebra said. “We came in with slacks today. Everyone was feeling classy, straight business; we came in looking like little businessmen out here. We were having a little fun with it and we came out with the ‘W’ and that’s all that matters.”
After PSJA North handled Rowe in their first meeting 57-41 on Rowe’s home court, the Warriors rode a second-half surge and outscored the Raiders 35-23 during the third and fourth quarters for a crucial 30-6A win.
“We came together in that second half. We knew what it was going to take to win this game: it was going to take all five people on that court and we showed that in the third quarter and it carried over into the fourth and we ended up winning the game,” Rowe senior Darrin Everage Jr. said. “I’m just really proud of these guys. We lost to these guys at home, so it takes a lot mentally to come back over here and win a big game like this.”
Four of Rowe’s five starters finished with double figures led by Everage’s 20, Patrick Tarbutton’s 13, John Galan’s 12 and Yebra’s 11. Rowe’s fifth starter, freshman point guard Darren Manriquez, added six points and five assists.
The first half showed why the Raiders and Warriors entered the game ranked as the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in The Monitor’s Top 10 High School Boys Basketball poll.
PSJA North’s Elijah De La Garza dropped 17 first-half points on Rowe, while big man Iziaah Rangel slammed home an early alley-oop delivered by Matt Cantu. De La Garza finished with a game-high 31 points, while Rangel tallied 13 points and eight rebounds.
Rowe head coach Jose Yebra was ejected from the game after being assessed one technical during the first quarter after arguing with officials, and another at the start of the fourth quarter after the same thing occurred.
The reaction to the ejection had both crowds and teams up on their feet. Rowe hardly seemed phased. The younger Yebra responded with a thunderous dunk late during the fourth quarter which sealed the Warriors’ victory.
“Me and Darrin go way back, so we take on big leadership roles and we know what we’re doing. We’ve been on this team, we know this program and we trust each other with it,” Yebra said.
“It’s up to us to take care of our business and that’s what we knew after that loss (against PSJA North). We knew if we won out and took care of our business, we’d have a chance to win a district title and that’s the position we put ourselves in right now, so I’m proud of these guys and I’m glad we won this game,” Everage said.
PSJA North will look to bounce back at 7:30 p.m. Friday on the road against Mission High (3-7 in district), while McAllen Rowe will take a trip to PSJA High (2-8 in district) at the same time Friday night.