For the Roswell boys basketball team, it must seem like Groundhog Day. This time in the 2018 season, Roswell was a confident 14-4 going into the stretch run of the season. For some reason, they would end up losing seven out of their last 10 games to finish a respectable 17-11.
Coach Moses “Dude” Burrola, in his third year of coaching, has done a credible job coaching the Coyotes this season. Roswell is sitting at 16-6, 1-1 in 5A, this season with four games to play in the regular season. He’s coached well enough to gather votes for District 4-5A Coach of the Year and to have his team knocking on the door of the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
Roswell has shown how deep of a program they are. Coming into the season, the one known commodity was junior Taymon Burrola, who has started or played varsity since his freshman season. There was Jasia Reese with the quick hands and feet. Reese has been able to steal the ball off the quickest of guards. Reese has come on of late, getting in basketball condition and game condition.
The one thing no one could see — the breakout season that senior Dominic Nava has had. A couple of injuries slowed him down in the last six games. The inside big man and physical presence has been Alonzo Acosta, who has kept balls alive and afforded the Coyotes second-chance points.
Guard Talon Sanders has been inserted into the starting lineup. He offers explosiveness to get to the paint. Senior Cristian De la O has played well and controlled the ball in breaking the press. He can get inside and get to the baseline and has worked on his 10-foot jumper.
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Senior off guard Xavier Sosa has had a good year. Roswell has received good effort and key rebounds from the quick-jumping T.J. Fletcher. Going forward, the Coyotes are going to have to get it done without seven of their players due to disciplinary reasons.
Roswell could have been sitting at 2-0 in the district. They have played well enough to be leading the district. In their last game against Carlsbad, they won at home shorthanded, 62-49. In that game, the players were focused and they did a good job of mixing the run and shooting the three-pointer and taking it to the basket.
With the next two games against Clovis and Hobbs, Roswell has a chance. “Dude” will need to take a page out of the last game against Carlsbad — instill confidence in his young team. Coach and let them play. Let them take three-pointers while taking it to the bigger Wildcats.
“Clovis is a good team,” Roswell coach Moses “Dude” Burrola said. “Clovis has been solid all year. They are big and that will pose a problem for us. We will still be without the players that were suspended. They will miss the Hobbs game as well. Anthony Ortega and Damian Morales will have to continue to play varsity for the next few games.”
Roswell will have to continually get another awesome performance from the rebounding machine, Anthony Ortega. Junior Dayton Gonzales sees the floor extremely well and should receive playing time. Roswell is in the perfect place because other teams know they’re shorthanded and aren’t expecting a game from the Coyotes.
Roswell has enough to win the district this season. Roswell will count on iron man Taymon Burrola, who will have to stay out of foul trouble if Roswell is to have any chance. He must get himself going on the offensive end of the floor and keep taking the three-point shot when he has it. He also must know when to go to the basket and be a force on the inside.
In the next two games, Roswell will need to play great defense and keep their composure. Coach Burrola will need to substitute and keep his players out of foul trouble. He will need to buy minutes for Taymon Burrola to rest, and they will need to hit their free throws.
Once the disciplined players are reinstated, RDR would at some point like to see a frontline of Acosta, Ortega and Fletcher in at the same time, paired with a couple of three-point shooters. Almost like a preview of next season.
“Playing the next three games will be tough on the road,” “Dude” said, “certainly with having to play inexperienced guys. We have to play smart and have good possessions and make sure we rebound the next three games.
“We have had a tough schedule all season, so hopefully that helps us in these next few games. We want to compete with the rest of the district and then get momentum in the district tournament and state. I told the boys ‘that we need to make free throws, take care, do the ball and shoot well.’ I have all the confidence in the world in my guys to play well.”
RDR Sports reached out to the other coaches in 5A: Hobbs coach Shelby Reeves assesses his team’s chance of winning the 5A crown.
“Every game in district is a big game,” Reeves said. “We talk about we must win our home games and try to steal a few on the road. Tomorrow’s game on the road against Carlsbad will be a tough game, but if we can win, we stay ahead in the district. I just feel whoever wins our district will get a good seed in the playoff.
“I don’t see any surprises in the state. I think it’s wide open and on any day you can lose if you’re not ready to play. On Tuesday, Roswell will be another tough game, so we will look at the tapes and see what we need to change. We take one game at a time, so at this point, the players know to stay focused and be ready every game.”
Roswell will travel to Clovis for a 7 p.m. tip-off on Friday.