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CITY 3-A BOYS' FINALS : Roosevelt Roughriders Pull Up Lame in Home Stretch, 56-55


How does one of the area's least-publicized high school basketball teams rise from obscurity to the heights of the City Section 3-A boys championship game?

While Crenshaw kicked down the door this season on its way to the 4-A final, Roosevelt used a more surreptitious approach to the 3-A final, sneaking in the back door.

But the defending champion Banning Pilots were rude hosts, defeating Roosevelt, 56-55, in overtime Friday at the Sports Arena.

"A lot of people didn't expect us to be here but we made it," said Roosevelt Coach David Perea. "Even though we lost, there are 14 other teams that wish they were here."

Center Paul Burgueno, who scored 13 points in the game, hit two free throws to bring Roosevelt within 56-55 with 38.3 remaining in overtime.

After a Pilot turnover, their 24th of the game, Roosevelt's Mario Hernandez missed a game-winning three-pointer with three seconds left.

"We got the ball in the hands of our best shooter but he just missed the shot," Perea said of Hernandez, who led the team with 14 points.

Hernandez hit a short baseline jumper with 1:15 left in the third quarter to extend Roosevelt's lead to 40-34. But the Pilots came back at the end of the fourth quarter with 11 unanswered points. Banning guard Jason Pickett, who led all players with 23 points, hit a layup with 1:34 left in regulation to tie the score at 53.

"We have been down in games before and were able to come back," Pickett said.

Said Banning Coach Marc Paez: "The team looked at the scoreboard and realized they didn't want to lose. That was all the coaching they needed."

"I feel we are a better team and we could have beaten Banning," Burgueno said. "When we were ahead the team started arguing against one another and that hurt us."

The loss marked the Roughriders' third in championship play.

Roosevelt fell to Granada Hills, 71-68, in the 1964 City Championship, and lost to Manual Arts four years later, 71-70.

Records: Roosevelt 14-12; Banning 19-11

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