By ARMANDO GARZA
Special to the NEWS
SAN BENITO — Every team strives for that signature win, the one that makes them feel good and puts their opponents on notice.
On Tuesday night, the San Benito Greyhounds may have done just that.
Scratching, clawing and fighting against a tough Brownsville Hanna team, the ’Hounds buckled down on defense and prevailed over the previously-unbeaten Golden Eagles, 54-51, in front of the home crowd at the SBHS gym.
The ’Hounds’ win gives Hanna its first 32-6A loss while San Benito (14-12 overall), Harlingen South and Brownsville Veterans each sit a game back at 4-2.
“I’m very proud of these guys,” ’Hounds head coach Eddie Abrego said. “They work hard all the time and we’ve asked so much of them by setting high expectations. We ask these 16, 17 and 18-year olds to be disciplined young men because this is a tough game. It was good to see that tonight.”
Hanna flexed its muscles early and came out scorching on the red-hot shooting of Andrew Briseno, who accounted for 11 of the Eagles’ 18 points. Briseno hit four field goals, including three from downtown. Though hampered by seven giveaways, San Benito countered as Joey Salcedo drilled two threes of his own while Cristian Sierra chipped in five points on two field goals including one from behind the arc.
“Hanna has a great team and they rattled us in the beginning,” Abrego said. “They have a speedy point guard who found some pockets and made some plays. We told our point guard Mario Aguirre to do the same thing and he started playing tough defense and the team started to respond to that.”
Indeed, the Eagles cooled off considerably thanks to more defensive prowess by San Benito. The Hounds stepped up the pressure and got several stops as Briseno was held to one field goal. On the other end, Jordan Briones hit all four his free throw attempts and the Hounds also got Salcedo’s third three-pointer of the half as Hanna’s halftime lead was just 27-24.
The third quarter was most certainly the decisive one.
Though Briseno hit another three and had five points in the quarter, the Hounds frustrated the Eagles defensively and got their highest output of the game offensively with 18 points. Daniel Roa exploded for eight of those, including a trey, while Briones stepped up with five points as well.
The final stanza was nip and tuck as Hanna tried to fly back ahead. Ed Messbarger recorded seven points during the Eagles’ rally attempt and Alex Herrera tallied five. Briseno was held scoreless in the fourth by more SB defense while the home team got six points from Eddie Delgado to keep the visitors at bay.
With the big win in hand, this could be the turning point for San Benito as it tries to assert itself in the tough 32-6A race as the first round of district play draws to a close.
“Our coaches told the kids, ‘Let’s get this win and use it as a springboard’,” Abrego explained. “And we’re gonna try to carry over to the next opponent and the next opponent after that.”
Scorers for the Hounds against Hanna included Briones (14 points), Roa (10), Delgado (10), Salcedo (9), Sierra (8) and Mario Aguirre (3).
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