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An Impressive Run for Dell City's Coed Junior-High Basketball Team

The Cougar junior-high basketball team, with second-place tournament trophy.

Congratulations to our coed junior-high basketball team for their fantastic run last week, including a second-place finish at a tournament at Immanuel Christian in El Paso!


The Cougars' streak began with a trip to face the Pirates in Valentine on Monday, Jan. 20, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.


Dell City came away with a 24-4 victory. Seventh-graders Joe Acosta led the scoring with 8 points. Next up was eighth-grader Kortney Burford – who scored 6 points, and had 11 rebounds.


It was the team's “most dominant performance of the year,” Dell City Athletics Director Joe Czubinski said. Czubinski predicted the game would “bode well for the upcoming tournament at Immanuel Christian,” and said the squad “hopes to be a better team and do great things.”


Czubinski's prediction was fulfilled, when the team traveled to the Immanuel Christian tournament on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 24 and 25.


The Cougars won a 30-25 victory over El Paso Homeschool in their first game, on Friday. Eighth-grader Reyes Espinoza had a commanding outing – scoring 16 points, and taking 8 rebounds. Acosta and Burford had 6 points a piece, and Burford had 12 rebounds. Czubinski noted that it was the first time in his five years at Dell City ISD that the Cougars' junior-high team had beaten El Paso Homeschool.


“They just keep getting better,” Czubinski said of the Cougars. “It doesn't matter if we are a co-ed team playing mainly boys' teams. This group of athletes works very hard, and they are producing great results.”


The Cougars returned to El Paso Saturday, to face Immanuel Christian's “Gold” team in the tournament semifinals. And Dell City was dominant again – winning 40-18.


Burford led the way in this game – with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Espinoza had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Acosta had 8 points. Luis Ayala scored 4 points and had 8 rebounds, and Iris Ayala had 2 points and 4 rebounds. Hunter O'Leary and Nicole Martos contributed with 2 rebounds and 2 steals a piece.


It set the team up for a trip to the finals – a first for the Dell City junior-high team at the Immanuel Christian tournament.


Czubinski praised the squad for continually “trying to up their game.”


“They listen well,” he said, “and they try to play to the maximum of their potential every time they hit the court.”


The Cougars faced Immanuel Christian's boys' “Blue” team in the finals, which began at 7:30 p.m. Saturday evening.


It was a hard-fought contest. The Cougars fell behind early, and trailed 28-6 at halftime. The team stepped up its performance in the second half – scoring 18 points to Immanuel's 20 in the last two quarters – but couldn't erase the deficit, and lost by a final score of 24-38.


Espinoza had another strong game – with 13 points and 9 rebounds – as did Burford, who had 8 points and 8 rebounds. The Cougars were hurt by poor work at the foul line – while the team's free-throw percentage had been between 50 and 60 percent in the week's previous games, the Cougars shot for 40 percent on free throws in the final.


But Czubinski said he was still “very proud” of the team – which took home its second runner-up tournament trophy of the season.


“We lost to a very good team,” Czubinski said of the finals. “They had good depth, good shooters and a lot of height – but our players still hung with them.”


“The effort and intensity was there all tournament,” Czubinski said. “We're very proud of all of them – they did a great job, and they made Dell City very proud.”


The Cougar junior-high team traveled to Balmorhea Monday, Jan. 27. The team was scheduled to have its last home game of the season Monday, Feb. 3, against Marfa, and to wrap up its 2018-2019 season with a tournament in Fort Davis Feb. 8.


Congratulations on the great play – and Go Cougars!