With only three starters back from last year’s team, Alice coach Amanda Gonzalez said experience would be a factor, especially early this season.

And while the Lady Coyotes’ overall inexperience showed at times in their season opener against H.M. King Tuesday night, the ability of Alice’s returning starters — Criselda Cruz, Alex Garcia and Jakki Barrera — shined through.

The three girls — who played key roles in last season’s run to the state playoffs — combined for a total of 44 points to fuel a 54-39 victory against the Lady Brahmas.

Cruz had a hot hand through most of the game. She scored 14 points in the first period to lead the Lady Coyotes to a 19-3 lead. Barrera had a last-second three-pointer to give Alice a 16-point advantage.

Kingsville was finally able to get going in the second period, but Alice held its ground thanks in part to three-pointers by Barrera, Cruz and Hanah Rodriguez. Cruz totaled nine in the second period.

Sophomore Clare Martinez scored four points off turnovers and Garcia scored four from her post position in the third period. Cruz scored six in the fourth.

Cruz, a junior, finished with 26 points.

The Alice girls won’t be on the court again until next week when they play in the Valley View Border Brawl tournament in the Rio Grande Valley on Nov. 17-19.