The Robstown Cotton Pickers were able to keep things close, but were unable to hold an advantage as the Orange Grove Bulldogs improved their win streak to four in a physical 56-64 defeat Friday night. The loss puts the Pickers record at 4-5 in District 31-3A.
"They've really improved," Orange Grove head coach John Huber said of the 'Pickers. "The first time we played them, I don't think we played well and I don't think they played well, but this game was at a much higher level of play.
"They've really improved, we've really improved, so it was a big win for us. And I think they're going to get some people. They're not done. I think they've got the talent to upset some people and maybe have a shot at a third spot yet."
The Bulldogs began the game well, but soon found themselves trailing to the 'Pickers, 11-12.
The Bulldogs regained the lead at the beginning of the second, but struggled to build on it as Robstown's Randy Flores continued to draw fouls from the Orange Grove defense. Flores went 6-8 from the free throw line in the quarter.
"We just don't seem to like prosperity," Huber said. "We get an eight- or ten-point lead and then we let them back in with shoddy defense. We don't box out (or) do the little things and we turn the ball over and let them back in."
By halftime, the Bulldogs held a slim 30-26 lead.
Robstown continued to shoot well in the third quarter, taking a 35-34 lead on a three-pointer by Josh Gaona, but costly turnovers put Orange Grove back in the game. By the end of the quarter, the Bulldogs led, 46-39.
Orange Grove held the lead throughout the fourth, assisted by clutch free throw shooting by Jordan Huber and Josh Fuhrken. Both players combined for 11-15 from the free throw line in the quarter, putting the game out of Robstown's reach.
Huber led the Bulldogs in scoring with 30 points, including four three-pointers. Cody Gomez had 10 points and Zach Arnold finished with eight points.
For Robstown, Ryan Garza led the team with 15 points and shot 4-6 from the free throw line. Flores had 10 points, D.J. Resendez had nine points, Matt Arellano got eight points and Gaona finished with seven points.
In the girls' varsity game, the Lady Bulldogs outscored the Lady 'Pickers 36-10 in the first half.
Orange Grove struggled offensively in the second half, however, scoring only 15 points before ultimately winning 51-28.
"I think it was a good win for us because we took a hard loss on Sinton," Lady Bulldogs head coach Jennifer Zbranek said. "I think we played well the first half, but the second half we got a little comfortable and had some mental errors. We just need to play for four quarters."
Nichole Vasquez led the Lady 'Pickers with 10 points. Jenna Rodriguez finished with seven points, including a three-pointer in the third quarter.
For Orange Grove, Brandi Herschap led her team with 17 points. Ashley King finished with 10 points.
Robstown will next travel on the road Friday to take on the Sinton Pirates. The girls are scheduled to play at 6:15 p.m., followed by the boys at 8:00 p.m. Their next home game will be Tuesday against Mathis.