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Horta key part of ‘Cats success

February 09, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

BRAWLEY — It has been said history tends to repeat itself.

That is definitely the case with the Brawley Union High School girls basketball team.

Four years ago, freshman Lisa LeBaron made her way into the varsity starting lineup. Four years later, LeBaron has become arguably the best girls basketball player in the Imperial Valley.

Now another freshman has made her way into the Wildcats' starting lineup … 15-year-old Reggie Horta.

Horta started the season on the junior varsity, but during Christmas break Brawley coach Mike Pacheco called her up to compete in some tournaments. Her first tour of duty was the Kofa High tournament in Yuma in mid-December.

At first, LeBaron said, the rest of the team had no idea who Horta was. They didn't even know her name. That changed quickly. Horta became an immediate impact player and has stepped into the role of the Wildcats' third scoring option behind LeBaron and senior Marquita Travis.

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"I had a feeling they were going to call me up for some of those tournaments," said the 5-foot-7 Horta. "But I didn't expect to stay the rest of the year."

She did stay and it was a move that has worked. Early in the season Brawley struggled offensively because of the lack of a third scorer. Teams keyed on LeBaron and Travis, forcing other Wildcats to beat them. That didn't happen often as Brawley struggled to an under .500 record.

With the emergence of Horta, though, the Wildcats' offense has been more versatile, utilizing the inside games of LeBaron and Travis and the outside game of Horta, and Brawley is atop the Imperial Valley League.

"She's one of our scorers and has become our third option," said Pacheco. "I give her the green light to shoot when she's open because I know she can hit it from the outside.

"Because she can score she's taken some pressure off Lisa and Marquita. She started off a little tentative, but the more she plays the more confidence she gets."

Earlier in the season Horta would get open looks but would pass to teammates. It wasn't fear or nerves that made her give up the ball but the added pressure of playing at the varsity level.

LeBaron went through the same thing her freshman year and said she expected Horta to pass up shots.

Now, Horta doesn't feel as much pressure and is taking more shots and averaging 10 points per game.

"She's real calm out there for a freshman. She has a lot of poise and does a lot of good things for us," said Pacheco. "Reggie's one of our best free-throw shooters and is just really good fundamentally."

With one more regular season game, the postseason right around the corner and three years of high school ball ahead of her, Horta knows she isn't close to fulfilling her potential.

"All this has been a good experience for me, but I'm still learning and have a lot more to learn," Horta said.

If she can continue to improve her game, LeBaron said, Horta can be one of the best in the Valley.

"She's young right now and she's already pretty good," LeBaron said. "I really think Reggie has the skill and the potential to be really good and be one of the best around here."

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