Commentary: Cipriano’s run at Santa Rosa deserves respect

Another basketball season is coming to a close and, once again, Santa Rosa head coach Johnny Cipriano will lay claim to at least a share of another district title.

Not only will he hoist the trophy, he will hoist it for an unprecedented 12th time in a row, further solidifying him as not only the face of Warrior athletics, but as one of the best coaches the Rio GrandeValley has to offer.

He put the Warriors on the map as a basketball school and has done nothing but win since becoming the Warriors’ coach back in 2002.

Of course, thinking this streak is impressive may be my biased opinion since Santa Rosa is my alma mater.

It’s also easy to dismiss all of this by pointing out that their district competition has been weak in recent years.

You may be right, as the Warriors won every district game by nearly 40 points a year ago and by 43 points this season.

However, that’s why Cipriano goes out of his way to bus the Warriors to tournaments outside of the Valley and schedules tough non-district games.

This year alone, the Warriors have faced Corpus Christi Miller, Edinburg North, Brownsville Veterans and Edinburg Vela, to name a few.

He’s not hiding the Warriors from the tougher talent.

Aside from that, Cipriano’s streak is impressive for a couple of other reasons.

Santa Rosa hasn’t lost a single district game since 2013 and before that one loss, Cipriano’s squads reeled off 68 straight district wins.

Another thing people like to claim is that the talent is always there.

Compared to most schools in the Valley, the talent pool isn’t as deep at Santa Rosa. And, even then, think about how many basketball players have gone through opposing schools in the last 12 seasons.

No rivaling district program has put together a team that can say they won a district title outright.

It’s the coaching, plain and simple.

Cipriano makes great shooters, coaches at a fast pace on offense and makes it his mission to frustrate on defense.

It also doesn’t hurt that his players think the world of him and will play for him every night they’re out on the court.

Not impressed by the district streak? Here are some quick postseason numbers:

Aside from his first season, in 15 season’s at the helm, Cipriano has made the playoffs now 14 consecutive years, has the 12 district crowns and has won at least one playoff game in 12 of the previous 13 postseasons (13 of 14 should they win a game in this year’s postseason).

He’s reached the regional quarterfinals 10 times and the regional semifinals five times.

Cipriano has also won one Region IV tournament, earning the Warriors a trip to the final four back in 2009.

Cipriano’s playoff record is 22-13, proving he has delivered when it has counted the most and has done it consistently.

Let’s give the man and the program he has built some respect and don’t look for it to change anytime soon.

Mark Molina is a sports writer for the Valley Morning Star. Follow him on Twitter at @molina0521