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Alexander's Zuniga proves why he is one of Laredo's best players

Posted Date: 02/08/2024

Alexander's Zuniga proves why he is one of Laredo's best players

There was a common phrase chanted whenever No. 2 for Alexander had the ball Tuesday against United. 

“M-V-P,” fans screamed and roared. 

The Bulldogs kept their district title hopes alive as they came back to beat the Longhorns 42-39 on Tuesday. And Edgar Zuniga — No. 2 for Alexander — was at the forefront of the comeback. 

Entering this season, Zuniga was considered one of Laredo’s best basketball players. And he proved why as his uncanny playmaking talent was on full display in the win. 

The Bulldogs had an abysmal first half. They couldn’t buy a bucket to save their life. They went into halftime down 22-12. But they didn’t panic. All Alexander head coach Luis Valdez told his team during the break was to stay patient and play within their strengths. And that’s what exactly Zuniga and the rest of his teammates did. 

“Playmaking, that’s (Zuniga’s) strength,” Valdez said. “He scored layups, had assists and got steals. That’s his strength. We told him at halftime to play within his strength. If you are a post, play on the inside. If you are a shooter, stay outside. Play within our strength. Sometimes we forget what our strengths are. But he played within his strength and did well.” 

Zuniga isn’t a guy who will put up 20-plus points per game. He’s a guy who will get you 12 points — which he did on Tuesday — and record a handful of assists and game-winning plays — which he also did. 

The game changed when Zuniga hit a big time 3-pointer midway through the third quarter. It cut United’s lead to seven points, but that was just the beginning. Later in the third quarter, he had two back-to-back steals, which were converted into layups and tied the game at 34 apiece.  

“The theme of this year is never give up,” Zuniga said of his second-half attitude. “We were down 10 at the half, but the first thing is to never give up. We had to come out of the gate strong, and that’s what we did.” 

Although Zuniga had a tremendous second-half performance, he knows his first-half outing wasn’t quality at all. He knows he must play a full 32 minutes of his best basketball every time he steps onto the court for Alexander to win comfortably and not barely.  

“We had a bad first half,” Zuniga said. “We just have to come out of the gate stronger. We always come out a little sloppy. We just have to play a full game at 100 percent, not just a second half.” 

Valdez acknowledged that the Bulldogs need to play a complete game, too. 

“They kept at it,” Valdez said. “We didn’t have a very good first half.” 

While Tuesday’s win gave Alexander a complete sweep of United during district play this season, it kept its district titles hopes alive, too. For the Bulldogs to win a league championship they will need to win out and have United South stumble one more time as the Panthers are currently first in District 30-6A while the Navy & Gold is second. South has one district loss – Alexander – while the Bulldogs have two – the Panthers and the Del Rio Rams. 

When the buzzer sounded Tuesday, Zuniga was greeted with “M-V-P" chants. Alexander fans made sure to let the junior know he had a great game. 

Zuniga appreciated the “M-V-P" chants. But he knows that there are other players in the district who have proved their MVP status this year, too – like United South’s Joey Tello. He even knows some of his teammates deserve consideration for the award, too. 

But on Tuesday, with the Bulldogs in a massive hole entering the second half, Zuniga was the one who led the charge and got them out. He was the one who provided the necessary spark for Alexander to beat its rivals and stay in title contention. Zuniga proved why he’s considered one of the best in Laredo. And the Bulldogs will need him to continue to show that with playoffs right around the corner. 

“I had a good second half,” Zuniga said. “I feel honored by the ‘M-V-P' chants, but there’s other guys in the district that are also really good. I can say I am in the run for it, but I am just trying to remain humble. There’re other guys in the district that are very tough.”