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Roswell looking to make a tourney run

Roswell’s Miguel Baray drives down the court Feb. 15 against Carlsbad at the Coyote Den. (David Rocha File Photo)

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It has been a long and winding road with peaks and valleys for the Roswell boys basketball team. Now it comes down to district tournament play and one game. If the Coyotes are successful in defeating Carlsbad then they will get another day of basketball life, and another chance to win a game against Clovis.

But, before we get to all that, Roswell can only focus on a Carlsbad team that has been anything but an easy out for them this season. In their first meeting, Roswell won an overtime thriller at Carlsbad, 57-56, on Feb.1.

In their next meeting, when the two met on Feb. 15 at the Coyote Den, it was a physical game and both teams had trouble making shots. Roswell just made enough for their second conference win of the season.

Roswell is battle tested, having played one of the toughest non-conference and conference schedules in the state. This has been a peculiar season for the Coyotes — they have been hit with injuries and suspensions and a lack of depth.

Roswell coach Moses “Dude” Burrola has adjusted, and has gone with a group of sophomores that have been playing more like upperclassmen. That should pay dividends when district and state tournaments come around.

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In Clovis Feb. 22, Roswell was right there and had a chance late, but couldn’t hit the big shot they needed. No matter how skilled and experienced the sophomores become, the one thing Roswell cannot overcome this season is a lack of size.

“Size has killed us all season,” “Dude” Burrola said. “Although we have rebounded better of late just size, in general, has hurt us. Our younger kids are playing great. Our junior varsity has lost three games all season, and most of those players being sophomores and getting playing time on varsity as well.”

Roswell is fighting for a spot in the state tournament. This season only the top 16 teams are chosen — at the time of this article they are ranked 10th in the state. With a good showing in the district tournament, they could, maybe, host a playoff game.

Many fans forget that Roswell was 4A last season and this has been a year of adjustments, not only for the junior varsity but for the varsity. Roswell has had to adjust to the speed of the game and they have had to develop a deeper bench and play more players.

“We are just getting used to the speed of 5A,” “Dude” said. “The younger guys are starting to understand the play from 4A to 5A is a major jump. If we can play well finishing out the season we have a chance to make some noise in the state tournament. Shooting the ball has to be the key. We didn’t shoot really well last night and if we can defend, rebound and shoot the ball we are a good team.”

Burrola feels like no matter what happens from here on out, he’s proud of his team. He feels his Coyotes have persevered and kept improving all season. Roswell has the talent to play with and beat any team in 5A.

The Coyotes have the firepower offensively — they are lead by Tarren Burrola, who is averaging 17 points a game and may have the quickest release in 5A basketball. Taymon Burrola is the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 16 points a game. Roswell has been pleasantly surprised by Miguel Baray, who is the team’s third leading scorer averaging 12 points a game.

Off-guard Dominic Nava’s game has improved as the season has gone on. His defense has been stellar and he has not been afraid to take the big shot. Rhett Stokes has started some games this season and made some big shots and played good defense. His most valuable asset to the team is he is smart and thinks two to three steps ahead during the game.

Talon Sanders has played and started a couple of games this season. Sanders has off-the-charts athletic ability and the moment is not too big for him. He can and will take the big shot if he is open.

Roswell’s big man of the future is now: sophomore Alonzo Acosta, who has held his own against juniors and seniors and come back for more. Acosta has played big and will grab rebounds. He is around the glass on both ends of the floor and his hustle plays give the Coyotes extra possessions. He can also score down low.

With a trio of guards, coach Burrola can go to his greyhound lineup when he needs pure speed. He can insert Dayton Gonzales, Cristian De la O, athletic Freddie Anaya and silky shooting Juan Ybarra to go along with determined Hector Tarin.

“I’m hoping we shoot the ball the way we know how,” “Dude” said. “I think we can shock people around the state. We are as good as anyone, we just have to play together and stay healthy through our last run of the season.”

Roswell will face Carlsbad at 7 p.m. at the Coyote Den tonight.

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