LAREDO, Texas - After opening District 30-6A play with a loss to Del Rio on Dec. 21, Laredo United has reeled off four consecutive victories, with the latest coming Saturday night in a 73-60 win over rival Laredo Alexander.
Junior Diego Saldana led the scoring attack and burned the nets for 17 points while senior Carlos Castro added 16 points. The duo - along with Nick Cruz who finished with 13 points - were relentless in helping Laredo United build a 19-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Saldana set the tone from the opening tip, burying a 3-pointer from the corner 14 seconds into the game. Eliud Fernandez added a layup while Luis Arzuaga hit two free throws and Saldana added his second field of the game in a span of three minutes to give United a 9-0 lead.
The Bulldogs finally got on the board on a basket by Shawn Bryand at the 5:12 mark, followed by Ito Ramos’ three-point play to cut Laredo United's lead to 9-5. Cruz followed with back-to-back baskets to ignite a 10-2 Laredo United run to finish the opening quarter.
Adrian Orozco, who has carried the offensive load for Laredo Alexander, broke loose in the second quarter, scoring six of his game-high 24 points.
Castro took over the second quarter for Laredo United, scoring six points while Saldana added a pair of baskets and Cruz hit his second 3-pointer of the game to give Laredo United a 34-20 halftime lead.
Laredo Alexander played an improve second half and turned to their offensive leader Orozco who went off for 12 points and went 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Cruz hit the opening basket of the second half, but Orozco fueled a 10-2 run, scoring seven points to make it a 44-39 game with 1:40 left in the third quarter.
The Longhorns stormed back with a 7-0 run, then Orozco hit a basket in the final seconds of the quarter to make 50-41 Laredo United heading into the fourth quarter.
The final quarter was a heated battle. Ramon Chavez came off the bench and made some key baskets to keep Laredo Alexander at a distance. Chavez opened the quarter with a three-pointer and would go on to connect on three triples to finish with 11 points, all coming in the fourth quarter.
The tandem of Nick Ordonez and Orozco kept the Bulldogs in the game, just as Chavez was helping Laredo United build a 58-45 lead with 6:17 left. Just when Laredo Alexander cut the lead, Chavez came up big from the three-point line to make it a 63-49 game at the 4:36 mark.
Orozco rolled off five points - a triple and a pair of free throws - as the Bulldogs fought valiantly and cut the lead to 63-54 with 3:15 left in the game.
But Laredo United went on a 7-0 run after Saldana hit a bucket and Cruz and Castro each completed a three-point play to push the lead to 71-55.