(The Pacific Palisades, CA)—The Roosevelt Rough Riders, proudly representing the Boyle Heights community of East L.A. continue to defy all odds as they’ve earned the right to play for the CIF/L.A. City Section‘s Division 2 Championship this coming Saturday, 2/29, at 11:00 AM. The game will be played at Los Angeles Southwest Community College.
This game carries a huge historical bookmarker for the Riders since it will only be the fourth time in the school’s history that they’ll be appearing in a Boys Varsity basketball title game. The first three were in the following years: 1964 – City Title Game/lost to Granada Hills with the team led by All-City & All-CIF player, Walt Simon; 1968 – City Title Game/lost to Manual Arts by 1 point. The game was played at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion; 1994 – Division 3-A/lost to Banning in overtime by 1 point. The game was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena; and now, in 2020 – Division 2 when they will play South East High School.
The #11 seeded Rough Riders, now with an overall record of (19-10), have stunned the City Section tournament selection process for three consecutive games as they have eliminated the following higher-seeded teams by these scores and in this order; (50-38) 1st round, 2/14 over #7, John F. Kennedy Cougars (Granada Hills), then (62-59) in the quarterfinal round, 2/19 over #3, Hamilton Yankees (West L.A.), and last Saturday, (57-51), in the second Semi-Final game, 2/22, over #2 Francis Poly Parrots (Sun Valley).
The stage is now set for the Championship game that will be contested against their Eastern Conference member school from South Gate, CA, the South East Jaguars, who come in as the #4 seed and carry an overall record of (16-15), plus a second place Eastern League record of (9-3). They are coached by Jason Hicks. Their road to the Title game went through these three teams, Wilson (63-45), Verdugo Hills (76-69), and lastly, the #1 seeded Chatsworth Chancellors whom they defeated by the final score of (54-51) in the Semi-final game that was also played at Palisades High School.
Roosevelt vs. Poly Game Summary:
(1st Qtr)—The Riders jumped out to a quick lead on the strength of their 3-point shooting as Senior point guard, #1/José Arellano, Senior forward, #11/Roberto Peña, and Super Soph, #3/Jonathan “Jhonny” Gomez each lighted it up for a trifecta, making it a total of (3) for 9 points. The Riders finished the quarter with 15 points. Poly came back with a short run to put up 12, ending the period at (15-12), Roosevelt.
(2nd Qtr)—The Riders worked efficiently to give themselves an (11) point lead midway through this period due in very large part to their guard play as evidenced by Arellano and Gomez. They found their shooters’ rhythms on their 3 point shots, as they swished through the nets at key times. Gomez had (16) and Arellano had (10) for the half. They combined for five treys and carried nearly the entire points tallied, for another 15 points, which gave them a (30-22) lead at the half. The Riders “2-3″ zone defense was effective, strong, and held Poly to just 9 points.
HALFTIME SCORE: Roosevelt (30) Poly (22)
(3rd Qtr)—It was now Riders shooting guard, Jonathan Gomez’s turn to start the offense and he promptly dropped in “back-to-back” 3 pointers, keeping the Parrots at bay. Add four consecutive made free throws by Center, Cesar Romo and they would be crucial in the final outcome. The defensive play of forward, Vince Burgueño, was outstanding as his presence on both the offensive and defensive boards was greatly appreciated by Coach Perez, parents, and the Roosevelt student-body. But, just in time for Poly, their point guard, #1/Joshua Gregorio began to heat up and he countered with a strong (11) point outburst in the period as Poly outscored the Riders (22-14), and thus narrowed the margin to single digits and then trailed it at (44-43) to end the period.
(4th Qtr)—The intensity level started high and remained thick throughout this final period. With the Rider defense remaining stingy, smothering, and aggressive, the momentum swung back and forth, as Poly managed to take a one point lead at the 4 minute mark, (47-46). Then, with Poly back up on top by (49-48) and (1:19) left in the game, this is where the Riders backcourt tandem of Arellano and Gomez really stepped it up. First, Gomez was fouled on a missed 3-point attempt. He then calmly went to the free-throw line and dropped in all three of his awarded shots, giving the Riders a (51-49) lead. Then it was Arellano’s turn to shoot four pressure-packed “one-and-one” free throws, giving the Riders a (55-49) lead with just (:12) seconds left. After a concession basket to Poly, Gomez returned to the charity stripe one final time, with (:01.6) seconds left in the game and again, nailed his second “one-and-one” in-a-row to ice the game. Poly could only muster a total of (8) points in the period, as Gregorio, who poured in (11) points in the third quarter, was held scoreless in the last. Again, a huge accomplishment by the Roosevelt defensive game plan that greatly aided in their victory.
FINAL SCORE: Roosevelt (57) Poly (51)
In a brief post-game interview with Roosevelt’s Head Coach, Mario Perez, he simply stated that this historic and gigantic win was a total team effort. He went on to add that he was not looking to change his approach to this Saturday’s Championship game any differently than from his other three consecutive tournament wins up to this point.
Note From The Editor: For any of our viewers who would like to see this game in its entirety on the NFHSNetwork.Com, simply go to their website, pay a month-long $10.99 subscription fee, and then find their Video On Demand (VOD) feature. You will also be able to watch the Championship game on Saturday, because you have become a subscriber. You may cancel your subscription at any time after the first 30 days.