Moniq Lopez leads Rio Grande City girls basketball to district victory over Laredo Cigarroa

RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas – Rio Grande City, the defending District 30-5A champions, met Laredo Cigarroa earlier this season at the Border Olympics in Laredo. The Lady Rattlers picked up a four-point victory and knew heading into Friday’s district opener that it was going to be a hard-fought game.

Rio Grande City (19-9, 1-0) was able to hold off Laredo Cigarroa’s late rally to open the district season with a 46-40 victory Friday and start the defense of their district title.  

Moniq Lopez led the offensive attack, connecting on four triples and finishing with a game-high 16 points, while Melanie Lopez added 11 points to round out Rio Grande City’s offense. 

The Lady Rattlers stifled the Lady Toros from the inception, controlling the paint with Emily Lopez and Angela Razo. The duo established their presence and did not allow Laredo Cigarroa much breathing room on offense.

Laredo Cigarroa’s Brianna Mariscal hit the opening basket on a hard-fought layup – and that proved to be the Lady Toros’ only lead of the game. Moniq Lopez came down the floor to drain her first triple of the game. 

Mia Calderon knocked down a three-pointer for the Lady Toros, but after that point Laredo Cigarroa struggled on offense despite getting great looks at the basket.

The Lady Rattlers took full advantage of the opportunity finishing the opening quarter on an 8-2 run to take a 14-6 lead. Laredo Cigarroa’s struggles continued, and Rio Grande City continued to find the basket with Lopez leading the way from the three-point line. 

In the second quarter, Lopez had the hot hand, scoring nine points on three triples to help Rio Grande City take a commanding 31-15 lead into halftime. The Lady Rattlers outscored Laredo Cigarroa 17-7 in the second quarter and held the Lady Toros to 15 points in the first half. 

Laredo Cigarroa (13-13, 0-1) made some halftime adjustments to get back in the game. Diane Lara was relatively quiet the opening half, only scoring five points. Lara has been Laredo Cigarroa’s offensive leader and started to make relentless attacks at the basket in the second half. 

Lara helped Laredo Cigarroa open the second half on a 10-2 run to start chipping away at Rio Grande City’s lead. 

The Lady Rattlers also saw Emily Lopez pick up her fourth foul early in the third quarter, sending her to the bench for the majority of the second half, opening the door for Laredo Cigarroa. 

Laredo Cigarroa also switched to man-to-man defense, compared to the first half where they stayed in a zone that allowed Rio Grande City to hit open three-pointers. 

The man-to-man defense gave Rio Grande City headaches and open opportunities for the Lady Toros. They closed the gap to five points on a three-point play by Eunice Cervantes at the 4:55 mark in the fourth quarter. 

But Rio Grande City came down the floor with Moniq Lopez who hit her own three-point play to regain momentum. The Lady Rattlers built a 10-point lead with 2:24 left in the game but Laredo Cigarroa would not go away, with Lara connecting on a triple to make it a 44-37 ball game with 2:03 left. With time winding down, Laredo Cigarroa was forced to foul sending Razo to the line. She nailed both free throws with 7.7 left. 

Laredo Cigaroa’s Mia Calderon connected on a long triple as time expired to make it a six-point ball game.       

PHOTO GALLERY

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