Rangers fall to the Wildcats in the final minutes of play.
By Jose Arredondo
The Northwest Vista Wildcats survived on the road with a 66-58 victory over this college’s Rangers Wednesday night in Candler Physical Education Center.
The Rangers started off the game with a full-court press that forced five Northwest Vista turnovers in the first 4 minutes. The Wildcats had no answer for the Rangers defensive strategy.
“Early on, they trapped us and forced turnovers,” Wildcats coach Irving Thomas said. “They came out of the blocks quickly and executed.”
Biology sophomore Rey Esquivel led the Rangers with 19 points and five rebounds. Esquivel was the catalyst behind the Rangers’ offense to an 8-2 lead in the first half.
Rangers coach Louis Martinez said, “Early on, we executed on both ends of the floor and we controlled the tempo of the game.”
Criminal justice sophomore Alan Delvalle led the Wildcats with 18 points and nine rebounds.
The Wildcats forced 19 turnovers and turned them into 12 points. Nonetheless, the Rangers robbed 17 turnovers of their own.
The halftime score was 31-31.
The second chance opportunities for the Wildcats eventually proved the Rangers’ demise in the second half. The Wildcats were able to turn more than 30 percent of their rebounds into points.
Momentum shifted in the Wildcats’ favor as the Rangers had a difficult time scoring. The Wildcats maintained a double-digit lead until the final three minutes of regulation.
The Rangers made one last run in the final 3 minutes as they cut the Wildcats lead to 6 points. However, it was too late for the Rangers.
Martinez applauded his team’s effort in their first game.
“I don’t believe in moral victories, but we played hard from start to finish and we had an opportunity to win the game,” Martinez said.
Martinez does not anticipate his team to be great early in the season; he does expect his team to improve each week.
“We are a new team, and we’re still building chemistry,” Martinez said. “I’m not expecting perfection; I’m expecting progression.”
The Rangers will face off against the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals at 6 p.m. Sept. 22 in Gym 1 of Candler.