With the Brownsville Jubilee Titans opening eyes during their inaugural UIL season, there was chatter about the Santa Rosa Warriors possibly losing their first District 32-3A game in seven years.
The Warriors had other ideas.
CJ Olivarez scored a game-high 27 points and David Bazaldua followed with 18 to lead the Warriors to a 77-59 victory over the Titans on Friday night in Santa Rosa.
The Warriors (9-0 in district) opened the game on fire, jumping out to a 15-3 run and making things tough for the Titans at the rim with an aggressive defense.
“In the first quarter, we executed really well except for a couple of fouls that we weren’t trying to commit,” Santa Rosa coach Johnny Cipriano said. “But that was the game plan, to throw the first punch, basically. In any big fight, you want to throw the first punch. Not literally, but you want to make the first big impact and I think we did that, but (Jubilee) is a good team.”
Jubilee (8-1 in district) finished the first quarter strong as Cameron Davila scored six straight points for the Titans to lead an 8-2 run to make it a 17-11 game.
Consecutive 3-pointers from Santa Rosa’s Chris Vela and Rey Davila killed the Jubilee run and pushed the lead to 23-14 heading to the second. Timely Warriors shots were an issue throughout for the frustrated Titans.
“It was frustrating down the stretch,” Jubilee coach DeIra Glover said. “(Santa Rosa) got on top of us early, and we knew if that happened it would be hard for us to come back. The guys came back and we pushed it as much as we can, but they were the better team today.”
The chippiness escalated and the climb got tougher for Jubilee in the second when an on-court scuffle led to three of its nine dressed players being ejected after leaving the bench.
“It was a call that (the officials) made when they ejected three of our guys,” Glover said. “We accepted it and we moved forward. We just had to continue to push through with what we had.”
Four were ejected in total, including a Santa Rosa player, but Olivarez sank four freebies as a result and made it 42-25 late in the second.
“I had told our guys that it would be that type of game,” Cipriano said of the incident. “We knew how they played, and I know we play aggressive, too. I knew it would be chippy and urged them to keep their head, but unfortunately, not everyone kept their head. For the most part, we were able to keep our heads and do what we needed to pull off the victory.”
Olivarez scored 12 points during the quarter to keep the Warriors ahead of the Titans at the break.
The Titans were given a spark by a pair of 3-pointers from Osiel Escamilla in the third to cut the lead to 55-43, but the Warriors, as they did all night, provided an answer as an Olivarez trey killed the momentum soon after.
Bazaldua pitched in and netted seven points during the third, and a buzzer-beating layup from Vela to end the frame and push the lead to 74-48 shut the door for good.
“I think Jubilee was playing pretty aggressive and got a little tired towards the end,” Cipriano said. “We were able to put in that last-second layup. Props to my guys for looking up and seeing it, and actually attacking the basket and finish.”
Jubilee outscored Santa Rosa 13-6 in the fourth as Santa Rosa called off the dogs and began to kill the clock.
Fabian Noble’s 16 points led Jubilee. Escamilla followed with 15, and Davila posted 10.
Glover said his team will regroup as it prepares to begin the second half of district play.
“We’ll watch the film and see what we did wrong and where our mistakes were,” he said. “We’ll be ready to regroup for the next round of district, where we’ll see (Santa Rosa) again.”