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LAREDO, Texas - The Laredo Cigarroa girls basketball team has been dealing with adversity all season.

The Lady Toros had to play Mission Veterans with only six varsity players and two JV call-ups because of a COVID-19 breakout within the program.

Then, on Friday, head coach Mary Tobias-Encinas missed the game because of COVID-19 protocols. But long-time varsity assistant Gabriela Martinez stepped in to coach the team and Laredo Cigarroa did not skip a beat.

The Lady Toros (17-14, 4-2) came away with a key 57-39 victory over Laredo Martin to stay in second place behind Rio Grande City as the second round of district play winds down. 

It is no secret that Diana Lara is the Lady Toros offensive weapon and the workhorse on the boards, along with sophomore Eunice Cervantes. The duo is relentless when it comes to rebounds, and they played a major role in Laredo Cigarroa pulling away in the second half. 

At the start of the game it was Lara who was Laredo Cigarroa’s scoring machine, dropping 15 of her game-high 22 points in the first half. She opened the game with 11 points in the first quarter to help Laredo Cigarroa build a 16-13 lead. 

Laredo Martin relied on sophomore Kiara Gonzalez, who had nine of the Lady Tigers' 13 first-quarter points. Gonzalez went on to finish with 16 points to lead the Lady Tigers.

Both Lara and Gonzalez slowed down in the second quarter, but it was Laredo Cigarroa who had an array of players step in to carry the offensive load. Laredo Martin managed to cut Laredo Cigarroa’s lead and came within six points before Cervantes started to come alive on offense along with Angela Chavarria and Alexis Ramirez, who helped the Lady Toros build a 10-point lead at halftime.

Lara came out aggressive in the third quarter, grabbing offensive rebounds and putting the ball in the basket as Laredo Cigarroa started to pull away. While Lara was spinning her way to the basket, Brianna Mariscal started to get to the free throw line. After drawing two fouls Mariscal went 4-for-4 from the line to give Laredo Cigarroa a 42-38 lead at the end of the third quarter. 

Laredo Martin (7-21, 1-5) started to struggle on offense as Laredo Cigarroa turned up their defense, taking away any penetration to the basket. 

The Lady Tigers' struggles opened the door of opportunity for Laredo Cigarroa and Cervantes. The lanky 5-foot-11 center was held to five points through the first three quarters, but Cervantes started to turn it up in the final quarter. She hauled down several big rebounds and had seven points to help Laredo Cigarroa extend its lead to 47-33 and put the game away.

Laredo Cigarroa travels to La Joya-Palmview on Tuesday while Laredo Martin hosts Mission Veterans Memorial at 6 p.m.