Lozoya nets 34 as Warriors return to state final four for second straight year

SEGUIN — Believe it! The Santa Rosa Warriors are going back to the Class 3A state basketball tournament for a second straight season after defeating San Antonio Cole 80-66 in the Region IV-3A final on Saturday at Seguin High School.

The Warriors’ offense kept its tempo up, took an early lead and answered every run the third-ranked Cougars threw at them.

Senior AB Lozoya delivered a game high 34-point performance in the win.

“It’s tough making it (to state) once and we lost a lot of talent last year, and a lot of people didn’t give us a chance to win district let alone make it to state again, so this is very special for us to make it back,” said Santa Rosa head coach Johnny Cipriano.

On Friday night in the regional semifinals, Lozoya scored only three points, but on Saturday the senior ripped through the Cougars’ defense like a wild animal.

Lozoya set the tone for the Warriors in the opening period with nine points and helped the Warriors race out to a 24-19 first-quarter lead.

In the second period, Lozoya completed a three- point play and on the next possession drilled a 3-pointer that gave the Warriors a 32-22 lead. The six-point spurt was a theme all afternoon long for Lozoya.

The second half belonged to the Warriors and Lozoya. After struggling to find the basket in Friday’s game, Lozoya delivered.

Meanwhile, Friday’s hero, Ryan Perez, followed up with an 18-point performance and scored eight points in the fourth quarter.

“We saw Cole play and we knew they didn’t like to play fast,” Lozoya said. “It worked out for us, playing fast. In the final minutes, we didn’t want to give it up; we wanted it and I’m proud of my team and excited to be back at state.”

Cipriano praised his senior point guard.

“He is the smallest guy on the court, but he has the biggest heart,” said Cipriano of Lozoya. “He is not afraid of anything. I know him as a person, too, and he is just a humble kid. AB has been with us the last four years and he has done a lot for us. After last night, he kept his head down and came back today and had a great game.”

The Warriors will now face Mt. Vernon (35-1) in the state semifinals at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. If they advance, they would then play in the title game at 10 a.m. Saturday against either Bowie or Grandview.

Last year the Warriors came up short in the semis against eventual 3A champion Dallas Madison.