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In Balmorhea, A Spirited Fight for Cougar Basketball

Our Cougar basketball teams – varsity and junior-high – came up short in contests against the Balmorhea Bears Friday (Feb. 5), but not before giving it all they had. The games were played in Balmorhea, and the Bears are a consistent powerhouse in rural West Texas sports.


Coach Joe Czubinski said of the Cougar varsity schedule that “there is no easy game, when you have teams like this in your district from top to bottom.”


But, Coach Ski said, “our players bring it to the floor – every practice, every game.”


The Cougar varsity squad fell by a final score of 27-47. The Bears got a strong start – scoring almost half their total points in the first quarter – but the Cougars adjusted, and held their own the last three quarters.


Junior Stevie Morales had a stand-out game – scoring 15 points, along with three rebounds, five steals and three assists. Freshman point guard Reyes Espinoza had seven points, nine rebounds, five steals and three assists. The team's other three players – freshmen all – also contributed to the scoring. Luis Ayala had two points, along with six rebounds. Hunter O'Leary had two points and four rebounds. And Iris Ayala had one point, four rebounds, one steal and one assist.


“It was a very good, tough game again for our team and its five players,” Coach Ski said. “We have all seen the marked improvement over the year.”


Cougar varsity has had a game added to the schedule – and will now have three home games in the next seven days. The team hosts Van Horn tomorrow (Feb. 9), and will play Sierra Blanca in Cougar Gym on Friday (Feb. 12). And now – the Cougars will host Fort Davis on Monday (Feb. 15), in their final game of the regular season. All the varsity games begin at 5 p.m.


Coach Ski said he hopes the team can “catch a break in one of our last three games.”


“These kids are very deserving of it,” he said. “I am very proud of them.”


The junior-high team also fell to Balmorhea – in a very close game. The final score was 24-29. The Cougars were without Eli Tate, one of their starters.


“Down one starter, our players played a better game than they did against Marfa earlier in the week,” Coach Ski said. “They were outmanned, outsized and outgunned – and they still hung tough and made a really good game out of it on the road, in a very tough place to play.”


Point guard Isaac Rangel led the Cougars in scoring, with 14 points, and Brandon Crabb had 10 points, along with 13 rebounds. Coach Ski said that every player on the team “has made enormous strides this year.”


The Cougar junior-high team has its last home game of the season tomorrow, against Van Horn, beginning at 4 p.m. A tournament is scheduled for Saturday in Fort Davis – but details for that event are yet to come.


Congratulations, Cougar basketball players, on your season this far – and good luck in this week's games!