Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
A lot can be said about the way the Roswell Coyotes boys’ basketball team has gotten to the semifinal game. Coyotes’ head coach Moses “Dude” Burrola will readily admit it, it is not the way he wanted to get there. But the one thing he will not shortchange his team on is their effort. This didn’t come about by happenstance or luck, Roswell made it happen by taking care of business during the season and putting themselves in a position to earn the right to be one game away from the championship game. There are other teams on the outside looking in, such as Alamogordo. They finished the season at 10-2 and just outside that No. 8 position to make it into the dance.
Roswell (10-2, 4-1 District 4-5A) goes into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed by evidence of winning those games and winning district for the first time in “Dude’s” four-year coaching career. Roswell would have had a tough game with Carlsbad. Carlsbad was full of confidence and had beaten Roswell 59-43 a week earlier. Roswell beat the Cavemen 63-60 earlier in the season, and this game would have settled the matter once and for all, but it didn’t work out that way.
In his fourth year on the bench, very few people are giving Moses “Dude” Burrola credit for the masterful job he has done in getting his team ready to play each night. He has put them in a position to be in the semifinal game, with a chance to play at The Pit for the first time in his head coaching career.
“Dude” held the Coyotes together at the beginning of the season until the football players could get their game legs. He leaned on his son, Taymon Burrola, to be the team leader and navigate the early season until the team could find its footing.
That resulted in Roswell starting the season on a five-game winning streak. Roswell had a chance to play the No. 1 team in the state: the Cleveland Storm. The game took place at a neutral site. Roswell didn’t play well the first half, but came out in the second half and won by outscoring the Storm 40-30. That 76-62 blemish was their first of the season and only served to make them more united as a team. It gave them fuel to go on another winning streak (four).
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“Dude” has to be mentioned as Coach of the Year in District 4-5A. He is also coaching his son, Taymon Burrola, who is considered a Player of the Year candidate. It’s taken four years for Taymon to grow into his role as leader and go-to player in clutch situations. Taymon Burrola has started as a freshman and had his best games against the biggest teams and players when it’s counted most.
On Thursday, he will face an undefeated Las Cruces team who is seeded No. 3. The good news is the Coyotes will play them at the Coyote Den. Roswell is one game away from being in their first championship game since reclassification in 2018. It could be their first championship game at The Pit since 2017 when former Coyotes coach Britt Cooper won it in walk-off fashion and retired.
“Dude’s” growth as a coach continues to be a work in progress. Each year he’s gotten better on the bench with his in-game adjustments. To many of his players, “Dude” is a second father to them, and they are additional sons to him. He coaches them and treats them that way.
One of the changes made by “Dude” is welcoming back sharpshooter Rhett Stokes, who sat out his junior year. This year, Stokes has been a key cog in the offense by hitting his 3-ball when they have needed it.
The fact that Stokes has not been afraid to shoot his shot when open has been vital to opening up the floor for Taymon Burrola and other players inside the lane to do their damage. On Thursday night, Stokes is going to have to play good defense, hit the 3-point shot in order to give the offense what they need, and keep the game close. Stokes will have to control the fire that burns in him and not get called for any unnecessary tick-tack fouls.
One of the unsung heroes on the team this year has to be Alonzo Acosta, who is relentless on the offensive boards and is able to play with other big teams. On Thursday, he has to catch the ball cleanly when it is thrown to him in the middle and he has to wheel and deal. Acosta has to play with a force and go up strong like he will not be denied. If Roswell is to have any chance, Acosta has to grab 15 offensive rebounds and score on put-backs. He must shoot seven to 10 free throws and stay out of foul trouble.
T.J. Fletcher is going to have to score when the opportunity presents itself. He has been a pleasant surprise for “Dude” this year. Fletcher will have to keep his emotions in check and realize this is possibly his last game, and his team needs him on the floor. He must box out, grab rebounds and play good defense like he has all season. Fletcher has the ability to score when the opportunity presents itself. On Thursday night, Roswell will need his attitude and fire, but in a positive way, if they are going to make it to the championship game on Saturday.
Talon Sanders and Freddie Anaya have been yin and yang to each other since football and probably throughout their lives. Both have to play lockdown defense, take and hit their shots when open.
Both players have a take-no-prisoners attitude and will leave everything out on the court. What Sanders and Anaya bring to the basketball team is a championship mentality from football. The moment will not be too big for them. They are gamers and will pass this confidence on to the rest of the team.
Roswell’s Taymon Burrola should be considered for Player of the Year. He has come up big for the Coyotes in their wins and losses. Now the stage and lights are the biggest and brightest. Taymon will have a chance to show everyone he deserves Player of the Year because he will be going against the best player on either team.
Taymon Burrola cannot get into foul trouble. If he is beaten on the defensive end of the floor, he must let points and shots go. Taymon Burrola must not let his team get too far behind before he scores. He must impose his will when it matters most.
Taymon must be the deciding factor in the game. Taymon Burrola has to find the right balance of picking his spots by letting the game come to him and getting his teammates involved. Roswell needs to find some easy points with their fast break and their press has to be effective.
Roswell is going to need to put Taymon on the other team’s least effective offensive threat, to keep him fresh down the stretch.
Roswell’s six seniors are like brothers and have been through wars together. They mount up one last time for the right to play for the biggest prize: the blue trophy on Saturday. In order to get there, in the semifinal game, Roswell must play with a controlled intensity all game long and leave everything on the floor. For Roswell, there is no tomorrow.
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.