Warriors defeat Indians to advance to Elite Eight

SAN ANTONIO — The Santa Rosa Warriors will be playing for the Class 3A Region IV title today after defeating the Jourdanton Indians 67-58 in a semifinal contest Friday night.

No. 25 Santa Rosa’s 67-58 victory over the Indians sent the Warriors to the Elite Eight, where they will face off against No. 5 San Antonio Cole at 1 p.m. at the Northside Sports Gym. The Warriors leaned on their defense and deep arsenal of shooters to hold off a ferocious Jourdanton comeback attempt in the fourth quarter and clinch a spot in the regional final.

“This is amazing. These guys have been through all this before, but it’s my first time as a coach,” Warriors coach Adrian Trevino said with tears in his eyes. “I was 0-14 last year in 6A. This is validation. Coaches work hard, too, and we sacrifice a lot. I feel like I’m riding a rollercoaster right now.”

Jourdanton got on the board first off a 3-pointer by Jarel Lilly. Then Santa Rosa went on a 9-0 scoring run, aided by the offensive prowess of junior CJ Olivarez and senior Chris Vela. A steal by senior Ruben Ochoa and strong offensive rebounding from junior David Bazaldua padded the early lead.

The teams swapped runs through the remainder of the opening quarter. Senior Rey Davila dished an offensive rebound to Olivarez for a late 3-pointer to put Santa Rosa up 18-13 heading to the second.

“We hit our shots, mostly, and we really locked up on defense. I knew we were going to win if we just pushed the ball because I don’t think any team can run with us,” Olivarez said. “The seniors told me I had to step it up because I haven’t been playing as good. I know how much these seniors wanted it, so I gave it my hardest because I didn’t want to go home either, and we pulled through at the end.”

Jourdanton senior Payton Gonzales kept the Indians close as he raced through Santa Rosa’s defense and attacked the basket hard. Vela (25 points) and Olivarez (14) continued to shoot lights-out from behind the arc to keep the Warriors in control. Sophomore Adrian Zamora slowed Jourdanton’s offense down as the second quarter went on, playing big in the paint and getting up to block shots and clean up on the boards.

The Indians went on a run to close out the first half and cut their deficit to 33-29 after a three-point play by Gonzales. Jourdanton maintained that momentum as the third quarter started. Lilly recorded a steal and senior Gabriel Paz knocked down a 3-pointer to get within two points.

Santa Rosa settled down defensively, and the dynamic duo of Bazaldua and Zamora kept the Indians out of the paint to help the Warriors open things up. Ochoa stuck to Jourdanton’s ball-handlers like glue to force mishaps and once again spark a scoreless stretch for the Indians. After a 3-pointer from Ochoa and a nice assist from Olivarez to Zamora, Santa Rosa jumped out to a 48-36 lead heading to the final quarter.

The Warriors quickly expanded their lead to 16 points to start the fourth. As Santa Rosa started to slow down its offensive attack to milk the clock, the Indians upped their defensive pressure. The game got physical and intense, to a point where an official had to tell the players to “stop it right now” as they exchanged words after a Jourdanton foul midway through the frame.

“They were just going for some rough fouls, I guess they were just salty,” Vela said. “Thank God for everything, and we’ll get ready for (today) now. It’s really all about revenge. We worked our butts off to get to where we’re at right now. It feels amazing. It was a good game, it was a tough game. We knew we needed to play defense and get the dub.”

Jourdanton turned to an aggressive full-court press during the final three minutes.

The Indians recorded steals on their side of the court and promptly turned them into points to cut the deficit to seven points. But the Warriors knew they were still in control with time running out, and though they were frustrated with the lack of foul calls against Jourdanton, they kept their composure.

Vela showed off his speed and ball skills to get through the press. And after a rough night at the charity stripe, Bazaldua (10) knocked down two clutch free throws to give Santa Rosa some extra cushion with less than two minutes remaining. The Warriors shot well from the stripe as Jourdanton fouled to stop the clock, maintained their lead and advanced to the last stop before possibly punching a ticket to the state tournament.

“Luckily we were ahead. We always talk about how many possessions … and since we were three possessions ahead, we said, ‘Hey, it’s OK. We can make a mistake.

Relax,’” Trevino said. “This was their goal. I’m just guiding them to their goal, and it’s amazing to see what these guys are able to accomplish because they work so hard. This is what they love. This is what tradition does. They know there’s pressure for them to get this done, and it’s just amazing.”

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