(San Antonio, Texas)-Just two teams remain in the University Interscholastic League’s Boys Basketball playoffs from the Rio Grande Valley. In Class 2A, it’s the 32-2A Champions, Santa Maria Cougars and in Class 5A, it’s the 31-5A Champions, Edinburg Vela Sabercats (35-5). Both Cats have fought their way into the state playoffs, with what most fans call it, the “Sweet 16”.

On Friday, the 32-2A Champions, Santa Maria Cougars (19-12) will play 25-2A runner-up Sabine Pass (21-10) at Buda Johnson HS with tip offset for 6:00 p.m. while third place finishers, 26-5A Converse Wagner (24-11) will meet Edinburg Vela on Friday at North East ISD Complex at 5:30 p.m. The winner meets 26-5A San Antonio Veterans Memorial (38-1) or 29-5A Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial (27-8) in the State 5A Boys Basketball Quarterfinals on Saturday.

The Road to the Sweet 16 is not an easy task to achieve in the UIL playoffs. Cougars head basketball coach Johnny Cipirano has done an excellent job in only his second season to lead his team in 2024 with playoff wins over Three Rivers, Johnson City, and Lee Academy. The Cougars will meet Sabine Pass, who features Kelvion Harris (6’3), Damian Aragon (6’3), Noah Fuselier (6’1), and Cale Kileys (6’0). For the Cougars, they will feature Jason Aleman (6’1), Matias Saladivar (6’1), Adam Saldivar (6’2), Esiah Gracia (5’8), and Luis Otero (6’0). Cougars Head Coach Cipirano has his team primed after non-district losses against Corpus Christi Miller, Pearsall, La Feria, Weslaco East, SA Lee, and Macedonian Christian. Since then, the Cougars have been unstoppable, riding a 15-game win streak into tomorrow’s meeting with Sabine Pass.

In Class 5A, the Edinburg Vela Sabercats are making its second “Sweet 16” appearance under head coach, Lucio Rodriguez. “This is our second appearance since I have been here,” says Lucio. “Our boys deserve this opportunity.” On Tuesday night, the Sabercats found those opportunities by knocking off 31-5A fourth place team, Sharyland Pioneer 63-41 in the Class 5A Region IV Quarterfinals. The Sabercats will meet its biggest challenge on Friday when they meet Converse Wagner from District 26-5A. The Sabercats are led by Axel Garza (6’4), Jesus Contreras (6’2), Jordan Bustamante (6’1), JP Olivarez (5’10), and EJ Avelar. The Sabercats will go up against the Thunderbirds sophomore Trevaun Clark (6’8), Mason McGowan (6-4), Romeo Hall (6’4), Marcus Johnson (6’2), and Emante West (6’2). All five players average nine points per game.

UIL State 2A Region IV Quarterfinal Champs! The Santa Maria HS Cougars will travel to play Sabine Pass in the regional semifinals this Friday in Buda Johnson HS. (HSSMImages/SM)