• Pleasanton players, coaches and fans celebrate following the Eagles’ area-round win over Sinton on Friday night at Kenedy High School.


Pleasanton drops Sinton for deepest playoff run in decades

KENEDY—Defense got the Pleasanton boys basketball team to the area round of the playoffs. Offense took the Eagles to the Region IV-4A quarterfinals.

Pleasanton jumped out early and answered every Sinton rally to top the Pirates 67-52 Friday at Kenedy High School to advance to the third round for the first time since 1991. The Eagles faced fifth-ranked Corpus Christi West Oso on Tuesday in the regional quarterfinals.

“It’s a great feeling,” Pleasanton coach Ricardo Marquez said. “The kids wanted it; they worked hard for it. All week long we’d been preparing, and they executed the game plan. They kept their composure whenever they needed to. It was a tough, hard battle. Sinton is a good team. We came out on top, and we’re blessed. The Lord has blessed us with a good win tonight.”

The Eagles opened the game with a 21-8 burst, which included three of the team’s 10 3-pointers on the night.

“I told the guys we had to come out and get a good start,” Marquez said. “Because if we kept it a close game, it was going to be tough like it was against Devine [in bi-district]. We just didn’t want to do that. We came out and we shot the ball well. I told them they had the green light [to shoot].”

Still, Pleasanton had to fend off a feisty Sinton team in the second half. After the Pirates pulled within 51-48 on a pair of Kameron Castillo free throws midway through the fourth quarter, the Eagles responded with a 12-0 run to seal its spot in the third round.

The senior trio of John Lopez, Jarik Garcia and Damian Stafford scored 10 of the team’s points during the decisive run and combined for 43 on the night.

Garcia (15 points) knocked down five 3-pointers, and Stafford (10) hit a pair from beyond the arc, including one just before the halftime buzzer. Lopez did his damage in the paint, scoring eight of his game-high 18 points in the first quarter.

“I think we’re finally finding that [team] chemistry,” Marquez said. “We had the chemistry in the very beginning, then with injuries and people moving up [to varsity] we had to find that chemistry again. We’re jelling at a good time right now.”

Despite the early hole, the Pirates fought back to pull within one in the third quarter. Sinton senior Jayden Villa hit his second consecutive shot from beyond the arc, cutting the deficit to 34-33. Pleasanton post Dalton Hobbs, who finished with 11 points, responded with a 3-pointer, and the Pirates never got closer than two points the rest of the way.

The Eagles caught fire in the final period, connecting on 10 of 15 shots, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. For the game, Pleasanton shot 41.7 percent from 3-point range and 46.4 percent overall.

Sinton had a miserable night on offense, shooting 18 of 54 from the field and 4 of 25 on 3-point attempts. Junior forward Andrew McGowan, who scored the Pirates’ first eight points, led a balanced attack with 15 points.

“We’ve just got to keep our focus,” Marquez said. “We’ve got to do what we do right. We’ve got to come out and have a good game plan for it. We’ll come out Tuesday and give it a shot…Our confidence level has gone up, and we’re getting on a roll right now.”