Santa Rosa’s Jay Guerra embracing this season’s playoff journey

SANTA ROSA — The Santa Rosa Warriors are once again the final basketball team standing in the Valley.

The Warriors have found themselves in the regional tournament for a third straight year and senior Jay Guerra has been a part of each of the playoff runs.

On Tuesday, Guerra hit a crucial free throw in the final seconds that gave the Warriors a two-possession lead that helped seal an area-round win over Corpus Christi London.

The Valley Morning Star had a chance to catch up with Guerra.

Q: You guys are back in the Sweet 16. How does that feel as a senior?

A: As a senior, getting to the Sweet 16 feels good because we graduated five talented players and had to prove to ourselves and others that we could continue the tradition.

Q: What is the experience like to be a part of the regional tournament?

A: The first year was exciting just to be that far into the playoffs and reaching the Elite 8 just to lose by 1 point. The second year, we were driven to reach state. I felt like we were the team to beat. This year, even though we’ve been there twice, I feel like we are the Cinderella team. No one expected us to make it back.

Q: Do you have any pre-game meals or pre-game superstitions?

A: We, the team, eat at the same place during the playoffs every game day. I order the same thing – baked chicken. We also make time to pray before every game.

Q: Over the past four years, what has it meant to be a part of such a special basketball program?

A: As a freshman, I took it for granted. Now, as a senior, I’ve realized how much we have accomplished and how big basketball is to the community of Santa Rosa. I hope we have set standards for future teams to achieve and surpass.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge for you this season?

A: The biggest challenge for me was overcoming a broken ankle from football season and missing half of the basketball season.

Q: Talk about the bond between you and this year’s group of seniors?

A: We’ve been playing together since sixth grade and with AB (Lozoya) since eighth grade; we would talk about reaching state like the 2009 team. Through the years we helped each other accomplish this goal in 2017 and with Ryan Perez coming to the team, this year, he fit right in like part of the family. We are cherishing our final games together.

Q: What has been the loudest gym you have played in?

A: I thought it was in Seguin in 2017 after qualifying for state, but that changed this past Tuesday in Falfurrias after we took the lead with 20 seconds left when I made a free throw to seal the game.

Q: If you could pick a super power what would it be and why?

A: The ability to stay young because who wants to get old?

Q: Who is your favorite NBA player and why?

A: Russell Westbrook, because he has such determination to win and he does not back down to anyone.

Q: If you could have dinner with anyone in history who would it be and why?

A: James Naismith to let him know that his invention of basketball has brought many exciting memories and friendships through competition.