SANTA MARIA, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Santa Maria boys basketball team is the last team from the Rio Grande Valley in the playoffs. 

“It feels good you know,” said senior guard Jerry Morales. “To be last team in Valley, I never felt this. So, it feels good to do it.”

The Cougars will meet Port Aransas in a 2A regional quarterfinal at Falfurrias High School on Tuesday. 

Santa Maria went undefeated in District 32-2A play. Tough times in non-district play at the start of the year got them ready to excel in district play. 

“Lot of bumps, think we didn’t start rolling until lost to La Feria in overtime,” said second-year Santa Maria head coach Johnny Cipriano. “That was the game that jumpstarted us and brought us together.”

“Most of us were coming out of football, rough early on,” said senior guard Kiani Zamaniego. “Once we started going, and everything, it’s been good.”

The Cougars routed Woodsboro, 80-52, in the bi-district round of the playoffs. They beat Goldthwaite, 50-35, in the area round. 

Cipriano, who led Santa Rosa to multiple final four trips, isn’t content with being the last team from the Valley in the playoffs. 

“It’s always a personal goal of mine to be the last team standing,” Cipriano said. “I don’t think it matters; we have one more than everybody else. If we win this, we’ll have one more after that.”

Tuesday’s game between Santa Maria and Port Aransas will tip-off at 7:00 p.m.