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Panthers rally at home for win over Cigarroa

December 7, 2016 GMT

Editor’s note: This game ended at press time. For the full story, visit LMTOnline.com

The last time United South head coach Carmelo Gonzalez saw Cigarroa play was at the Border Olympics two weekends ago.

The Toros were struggling and still in search of their first win at the time.

Fast forward to Tuesday night and Gonzalez walked away impressed with his opponent as the Panthers escaped with a 75-67 win over a much-improved Cigarroa team. And United South had to do so in comeback fashion.

The Toros went on an 11-0 run early in the third quarter, putting them ahead 52-48.

Cigarroa (3-7) was sharing the ball as four different players scored during the stretch.

Marcus Sandoval gave the Toros their largest lead of the game over United South (9-5) as his basket with 1:28 to play in the third frame gave Cigarroa a 56-50 advantage.

Sandoval beat the third quarter’s buzzer with a put-back that had the Toros ahead 58-55.

But Cigarroa went cold in the game’s final eight minutes, scoring just nine points.

United South opened the fourth period on a 10-3 run — Gio Mata highlighted the rally with an old-fashioned three-point play — that vaulted the Panthers ahead 64-62 with under six minutes left.

Mata, who finished with 25 points, scored eight of the Panthers’ final 10 points en route to victory.

Manny Hernandez paced United South with 30 points while Jorge Velasvo added 10.

Only four other Panthers got in the scorebook, totaling 10 points.

The Toros boasted a more balanced scoring attack.

Edgar Fraga continued his hot shooting from this past weekend at the Hebbronville Tournament, tallying 25 on Tuesday.

Sandoval chipped in 17 points while Benny Garza and Jorge Salazar added nine and eight points, respectively.

The first eight minutes were frenetic for both sides.

Cigarroa and United South extended its defenses full court, however, neither side’s press was particularly effective in causing turnovers.

This opened the door for odd-man rushes at the basket and open 3-pointers.

The clubs combined to score 49 points and hit eight treys in the opening quarter.

Three of the first four baskets made by the Panthers were 3s — all credited to Hernandez.

The Toros went on a 9-2 run — Sandoval accounting for seven of those — to take their first lead at 14-13 with 3:38 to play in the first quarter.

The teams traded basket before Velasvo completed a three-point play with less than five seconds left in the quarter to give the Panthers a 26-23 lead.

United South opened the second quarter on a 17-9 run to balloon its lead to double digits at 43-32, but the Toros made push in the waning minutes of the half to pull within 45-41 at the break.

The Toros next travel to the Hidalgo Tournament on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Panthers have the rest of the week off and are back in action next Tuesday at SA Reagan (7-4).

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Email: JDenega@LMTOnline.com