Bloomington - The Louise Hornets (15-12, 4-6) gave the Port Aransas Marlins (25-11, 12-0) everything they had Tuesday night in Bloomington going punch-for-punch for large stretches.
In their first return trip to the playoffs in 11 years, the Hornets made the Marlins sweat as they tried to pull off the bi-district upset. The Bloomington gym was packed with Louise fans and the Hornets marching band. The Hornets played with high energy throughout the game, but missed shots ultimately doomed the boy’s basketball season with a 46-33 loss.
“We played well enough to win,” Louise Coach Brain Blank said. “In my opinion, we outplayed (Port Aransas). We just didn’t hit shots and they did. I’m extremely proud of these kids, their fight and the way that they handled themselves in their first playoff game, in this atmosphere.”
The Marlins, who averaged 64 points a game during district play, where held in check by a feisty Louise defense. The Hornets slowed the game down and made Port Aransas work for points.
The offense for the Hornets was hard to come by all-night. The Marlins doubled Louise’s junior point guard Rogeric Schooler and packed the paint forcing contested shots.
Port Aransas started the game with an 8-2 run. The Hornets fought back and showed the Marlins it wasn’t going to be an easy night closing the first quarter tied 10-10.
Hornets senior post Duran Vasquez closed the first with two big plays, including a three as the quarter ended. After Vasquez’ make, the Louise sideline erupted with cheers, but it wasn’t a game-winning shot, the Hornets still had three more quarters to go.
Six points were all the Hornets could muster in the following two quarters, missing jumpers, easy layups, free-throws and everything in between. With Louise’s offense struggling to find points, Port Aransas didn’t and took the tie to a 17 point lead at the close of the third.
“We got the looks we wanted, they just weren’t falling,” Blank said. “That’s been our Achilles heal all year. We play extremely great defense, our shots just don’t want to fall for us.”
Vasquez finished the night with a game-high 15 points including two more three’s in the fourth. With Louise making some shots in the fourth the game got closer. The Hornets had chances to tighten it further with the Marlins sending them to the line. However, Louise missed seven free-throws in the forth, letting the Marlins escape with the win.
Junior guard Mathew Marek was the only other Hornet who scored in double-digits, finishing with 10 points.
The Marlins moved on to play the Ben Bolt Badgers in the area round of the playoffs.
With the close of basketball season, the Hornets will lose five seniors next year including Vasquez who was a starter. While the Hornets will be in a tougher district, playing against some former 3A schools, they will bring back a lot of talent, including Schooler, who was one of their two captains along with Vasquez.
“We’ve got four starters coming back,” Blank said. “We’ve got some good bench players coming back. Hopefully, we’ll build on this, move forward and try again next year.”