Southside passes Sam Houston for playoff victory

Gabriel Hinojosa scored 31 points, including 22 in the first half, to lead Southside to a 63-57 victory over Sam Houston on Monday night at the Alamo Convocation Center in the two-district Class 5A playoff round.

“He’s a great boy,” Southside coach Shawn Dalbert said of Hinojosa. “He spends so much time in the gym working on his game. I’m so proud of the way he played tonight. He’s a senior. It’s one and it’s done, you go home. The shots he set up in the first half actually opened everyone up.

The Cardinals (16-12) held a 14-point halftime lead, but the Hurricanes (18-14) came back strong to regain a 55-54 advantage midway through the fourth quarter. Dalbert called time out to halt Sam Houston’s momentum and urge his players to be more physical in the paint.

“One thing is we had to get tougher,” he said. “They were beefing us up on the boards and we had to find where the ball was coming from. We had guys sleeping in the back watching instead of finding someone.

Southside played most of the game in a 2-3 zone defense but went man-to-man and quickly healed some of their rebounding issues in the final minutes.

Sam Houston forward Aaron Harden, a 6-foot-7 senior, was a force at the bottom, finishing with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Jalen Jackson also got involved on the glass for the Hurricanes, picking up 11 rebounds to go with 18 points.

But Southside’s Andrew Mendoza, a 6-2 power forward, fought admirably after missing the last three games and rounded out Hinojosa with 17 points, hitting three 3-pointers and eight rebounds.

“He’s just a versatile player,” Dalbert said of Mendoza. “The kid can play the position. He is clever. He shoots the 3. He’s just a great player. He’s a four-year-old starter. He’s been here before.

Mendoza and Hinojosa combined to score 34 of Southside’s first 39 points as a sea of ​​red cheered the Cardinals happily in the locker room at halftime. But a 9-2 third-quarter run led by Jackson and Harden catapulted the Hurricanes within striking distance.

Harden hit a pull-up from the free-throw line to cut the deficit to two and a 4-0 run to open the fourth quarter prompted a Southside timeout.

With four minutes remaining, Sam Houston fullback John O’Neil connected on a deep 3-pointer from left wing, giving the Hurricanes their first lead since the first period.

The final 3 was just the fifth of the Hurricanes’ game, a stat Dalbert said he was proud to consider Sam Houston’s backcourt talent.

“They have three terrific 3-point shooters,” Dalbert said. “We focused on finding these guys, getting them out of their comfort zone and sticking with them if the ball is reversed. I was so proud of our kids for staying in the game defensively. We gave them a few too many offensive rebounds, but they’re big, physical and athletic.

Hinojosa kicked in a lay-up that had no chance of finding the back of the net, but a call from the goalkeeper pushed Southside’s lead to 62-57 with a minute remaining. The Cardinals defense managed to keep the Hurricanes off the scoreboard for the final seconds to secure the win.

“That environment, my kids have never been in that environment,” Dalbert said. “I think the crowd and everything, the vibe, even the gym. The backdrop there, we are not used to. So that scared us a bit. These kids don’t give up. They come to practice every day. They work hard. They don’t complain.

Next in the zone round, Southside will face the winner of Tuesday’s game between Alamo Heights and Liberty Hill.

Dalbert said Southside needed to keep working on the glass and playing physically to extend their playoff run.

“We have to keep them off the boards,” he said. “We’re not very big so we have to be tough on the defensive boards and give them a chance. I am very confident in our attack. We have guys who can score. You have to be methodical. »

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