Warriors survive tough test vs Poth to return to regional final

SEGUIN — The Santa Rosa Warriors hadn’t been caught off guard in their past six postseason games. But when they faced off against the Poth Pirates on Friday in the Region IV-3A semifinal, all that changed.

It wasn’t the Warriors’ usual 50-point blowout, but they were still able to get a 69-62 win to advance to their second straight regional final. They’ll face Schulenburg at 1 p.m. today for the chance to go to the UIL state tournament in San Antonio next week.

Leo Lara and Jonah Agado were the top scorers for the Warriors as they each posted 18 points to notch the Warriors’ victory.

Right behind them were teammates Monico Prado and AB Lozoya, who contributing 13 points each with Prado grabbing seven rebounds and Lozoya snagging six steals.

After an edgy first half, the Warriors held on to a slim 29-26 lead that was due to the height advantage of Poth’s Luis Gonzalez and Heath Dunn.

Together the duo outrebounded Santa Rosa 11-6 in the second quarter and managed to score 14 of the Pirates’ 17 points.

“The guys weren’t spreading the ball around like they’re used to doing and began to force shots, which we can’t do at this point,” said Warriors head coach Juan Cipriano.

To handle the strength of the men down below, in came Warriors Mike Ruiz, who limited the production of Dunn and Gonzalez to just five points and three rebounds in the third quarter.

Agado drilled three 3-pointers to help Santa Rosa establish a 48-41 lead at the end of the third.

Lara came out on fire to begin the fourth period as he netted eight straight points to help push the Warrior lead to eight at 58-46 with less than five minutes remaining.

To match Lara’s efforts, Dunn and Gonzalez combined for 10 points until Dunn fouled out with 1:58 left in the contest.

With the Warriors already in the bonus and on top of the Pirates 61-54, Santa Rosa played keep away to secure the win.

Lozoya hit seven of his eight free throws that ultimately lead to the victory.

“That’s the reason we wanted the ball in his hands because it’s hard to get it away from him,” said Cipriano of Lozoya. “Whenever we’re in trouble, he’s one of the guys to bail us out and I count on him to make the right decision with the ball.”