Santa Rosa’s Lara hopes to end stellar hoops career with state title

The Santa Rosa boys basketball program has been known for its elite status over the past several years and one athlete who has contributed to that success is senior guard Leo Lara.

Lara has served as the backbone for the Warriors in his four-year stint with the program, but his journey began long ago when he was just a young boy.

“I was in second grade, running summer track, and that’s when I met Coach (Juan) Cipriano,” Lara said “He came up to me during one of the practices and, soon enough, we began to develop my skills for basketball.”

Lara has gone on to help the Warriors become one of the top-ranked teams in the state and he would love to end his high school hoops career by helping the Warriors make the state tournament.

After graduation, he wishes to pursue a degree in kinesiology and one day become a head basketball coach.

The Valley Morning Star sat down with Lara on Thursday as the Warriors prepared for their Class 3A area-round playoff game against Dilley tonight.

Q: What’s your experience been like with Coach Cipriano?

A: I consider him as family since he’s taken me under his wing early on. We have that bond to where we can joke around and have a good time, but we also know when it’s time to take care of business.

Q: How does it feel to be a part of a stat- ranked basketball team?

A: Out of all the Santa Rosa teams, not one has been ranked in the top 10 in the state so we’re happy with our accomplishment, but we’re in pursuit to take it further this year.

Q: How has basketball helped you off the court?

A: Well, if I don’t keep my grades up in the classroom I wouldn’t be able to play the game I love, so that motivates me to study well and stay focused.

Q: What’s a memorable moment or game in your time as a Warrior?

A: The regional final game against Aransas Pass last year where I missed the last two shots that kept us from going to state. Something like that is always in the back of your mind and drives me to do better.

Q: What are you going to miss about Santa Rosa basketball?

A: I’m going to miss playing with my teammates, being around Coach Cipriano, the bus rides home and, of course, celebrating wins with everyone after games.

Q: What goes into your preparation as an athlete?

A: I like to spend my time perfecting my shot. We spend a lot of time practicing our shots as a team and I’d say that’s the strongest part of my game.

Q: Do you have a favorite NBA team or player?

A: My favorite team would have to be the Chicago Bulls and I love to watch Derrick Rose because he can drive to the basket really well and I like his aggressiveness.

Q: What’s your game day routine?

A: I like to hang out with a couple of my friends on the team, eat a good meal and make sure I am well prepared for the game mentally and physically.