ROMA — Coming out of the half, McAllen Memorial needed a spark to reignite its offense. The third quarter started with an Iasia Goldman post up, a Valeria Garcia running floater, a Cori Talamantez 3-pointer and a trip to the free-throw line.
In just a handful of minutes, McAllen Memorial had erased Laredo Nixon’s halftime advantage and trimmed the deficit to just one point as part of an 8-2 Memorial run. But before Memorial had an opportunity to regroup, Laredo Nixon knocked down another 3-pointer from the corner to stay in front.
That was the story of the second half in a wild Class 6A bi-district playoff game as McAllen Memorial’s late comeback attempts were warded off time and time again, as the District 30-6A champions fell to Laredo Nixon 42-38 in a nail biter Tuesday night at Roma High School.
“We kind of fell behind in the second quarter. We came out strong, but then struggled to get it going offensively,” McAllen Memorial head coach Clarisse Arredondo said. “In the second half, we tied the game at the end of the third quarter and they just hit some big shots. They hit three 3s and our 3s really weren’t falling today, I felt, for us. But my girls gave it 100% and they fought to the end.”
McAllen Memorial got off to a very hot start, sinking the first three shots of the contest to seize a 6-0 lead. Laredo Nixon clawed back to make it 12-6 by the end of the first, but Memorial had limited them to just two made shots from the floor in the opening 8 minutes.
Memorial scored the first bucket of the second too before the quarter quickly devolved into a living nightmare. Nixon closed the half on a 15-0 run to flip an eight-point deficit to a seven-point advantage at the half to flip the game on its head.
At the half, Arredondo fired up her squad to launch its second-half comeback bid.
“‘We’ve got 16 minutes. Go hard. It’s 16 minutes or pack up and go home,’” she said.
McAllen Memorial sparked a huge offensive surge coming out of the break and quickly thrust itself back into the game. Memorial scored 10 of the first 14 points of the third to make it 25-24 Nixon and ultimately tied it all up at 28 on the last shot of the quarter.
Throughout the fourth, Nixon and Memorial traded blows back and forth until the final buzzer. Memorial, however, never led by more than one in the final quarter, while Nixon led by as much as seven.
Memorial was seemingly coming out on top in every effort play, diving for loose balls and swooping in for aggressive steals.
But that wasn’t enough to overcome Nixon’s huge edge on the glass, as Nixon took advantage of its 16-player bench to outrebound Memorial 36-23 on the night.
“Yeah, absolutely. I told my girls that in halftime, too,” Arredondo said of her team wanting it more than their opponent. “The first quarter we were all over the place and then the second quarter, I felt we kind of got outhustled. At halftime, we stepped it up. I felt like they had a deeper bench than we do. They had a ton of kids that were coming in and out, in and out, in and out. I probably put in three kids.”
Guards Tori Alvarado and Cori Talamantez led the way offensively for Memorial, scoring 10 points apiece and combining for eight assists. Forward Valeria Garcia and center Iasia Goldman also tallied a combined 11 points and 22 rebounds.
The loss snaps a 15-game winning streak for McAllen Memorial and hands the team its first loss in 2020, or 73 days to be exact.
Memorial completed an undefeated run through district play in 30-6A, captured its fourth consecutive district championship and looks poised to run it back again in 2020-21.
“They’re fighters,” Arredondo said. “This group of girls went through a lot of adversity having injuries and learning to play different roles. But at the end of the day, they continued our tradition of winning district and hopefully next year we’ll be able to win it again and win some playoff games next year.”
Laredo Nixon advances to the area round where it will face the District 31-6A co-champion Weslaco High Panthers, who won at Harlingen South 54-43 on Tuesday in their bi-district contest.