Hoopa Falls to Head Royce in Playoffs
By MANUEL SANCHEZ, TRT Contributing Writer
The Hoopa Valley Warriors saw their season end in heartbreak and tears at the hands of the no. 4 seeded Head Royce Jayhawks, 67-59, in Oakland on February 23. The game was a back and forth affair that saw breathtaking plays from both teams until the final minute of the game; where the Hawks pulled away on the free throw line.
Hoopa senior Brandon Colegrove (24 points, 2 three pointers) slashed to the hoop making acrobatic shots. Charlie Moon (14 points, 4 three pointers) dazzled with his long distance barrage, and Andrew Sorrell (14 points, 4 blocks) controlled inside of the paint on offense and defense. The trio however didn’t have enough to get over the hump in this game that came down to one or two plays in the final minutes.
Hoopa had their chances late in the game; but the turning point was with just over a minute to go in the contest. Hoopa had the ball trailing by one point; Colegrove had the ball and he was hit everything he could in the second half. Hoopa could feel the game turning in their favor.
However, as Colegrove drove to his right, he was bumped by two defenders and fell to the ground losing the ball. After the no call, the Jayhawks got an easy layup and the foul to extend their lead to four points and pretty much iced the game.
It seemed neither team could pull away. The lead never went above eight points. Each team hit big shot after big shot down the stretch.
But the game didn’t start that way for the Warriors, as they saw the Hawks jump out to a early 6-0 lead after a sloppy start. The Warriors clawed their way back into the game, with Colegrove slashing and Moon bombing away from 3-pointland for a 14-14 tie after the first quarter.
The second quarter saw the Hawks get the cushion they would enjoy until the second half. The Warriors were outscored 24-16 in the quarter and allowed the Hawks to go into the break with a 38-30 lead. The Warriors’ big men, Sorrell and junior Milton Stewart, had 5 blocks in the first half but were in early foul trouble. With them on the bench, the Hawks scored inside at will for the lead.
The action picked up in the second half. You could feel the excitement in the gymnasium with both fan bases getting into the game full throttle. The student section for the Hawks was at full throat but the Hoopa contingent—many of whom caught a charter bus, courtesy of the Hoopa Valley Tribe—was large and in charge, and turned the Head Royce gym into the Warrior Dome.
The team was feeding off of the crowd’s energy and the Warriors came out of the break ready to show they were in the playoffs for a reason. Using an 11-3 run to start the half, Hoopa tied the game up at 41, with free-throws by junior guard, Tule O’Rourke. But this is when the Warriors couldn’t hit the ocean falling out of the titanic; Hoopa goes scoreless for the last 4 minutes of the third quarter and finds Head Royce plugging along for a 48-41 lead after the third quarter.
But the Warriors never gave up. They came back with Sorrell scoring 10 of his 14 points in the quarter. The lanky senior found holes inside of the 2-3 Zone and scored at will against the Hawks. His scoring allowed the Warriors to stay within reaching distance, and his and Stewarts inside defense forced bad shots and made Head Royce work for every point.
Hoopa fought back to tie the game at 50 with just over 2 minutes remaining. They even had two chances to take the lead but Moon and Colegrove’s three point attempts rimmed out.
“We played hard, and had our chances tonight,” Hoopa Head Coach Joe Marshall said. “We had a good season and these guys should be proud.”
Hoopa had bouts of inconsistency throughout the season but the one thing that was always consistent was their heart and love of the game. They never gave up, even when the chips were down. They made it further than any team in the last nine years.
Their ability to play for each other was what bonded this team together and will be the catalyst for next year’s team to immolate. As for the seniors, they played like there was no tomorrow and left it all on the court; they should carry their heads high with pride because Hoopa is proud of them and will continue to be for the rest of their lives. Congratulations team #RAW.