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WARRIORS MIDDLE SCHOOL DYNASTY GRABS 4TH STRAIGHT TITLE

The St. Paul Warriors won their 42nd consecutive game in a row and likely their fourth straight IIAAG Boys Middle School Basketball League championship on Monday night after defeating the Andersen Dragons 47-46 on their home court.

By Jay Leon Guerrero

The St. Paul Warriors won their 42nd consecutive game in a row and likely their fourth straight IIAAG Boys Middle School Basketball League championship on Monday night after defeating the Andersen Dragons 47-46 on their home court. The Dragons had a significant height advantage and made most of their points in the paint but the Warriors had a huge fourth quarter to improve to 9-0 in the season with just one game remaining.

There was much on the line on Monday night with both teams entering the game undefeated (8-0). The winner of Monday night’s contest guaranteed at least a share of the IIAAG title. Both teams got physical with each other and the crowd was into it as well in the showdown.

Fast forward to the 4th

With the game tied 34-34 after three quarters, the Warriors stepped up their defense and managed to get three early steals which turned into easy buckets. Jerome Borja from St. Paul got the first steal and made a contested lay-up to kickstart the run in the final period.

St. Paul’s Xavier Sanchez stepped into the passing lane and made the lay-in for their second quick score. The run was capped by another steal from Sanchez who passed ahead to Borja to complete the run to go up 40-34.

The Warriors managed to get their biggest lead of the game with Kanta Yamazaki driving to the basket to go up 45-38 with two minutes left in the game.

The Dragons mounted a comeback with CJ Brown making a free throw followed by a basket from Ari Fulton. After a missed lay-in from Borja, the Dragons got a huge 3-pointer from Treydan Rosario with 55 seconds left to cut the lead to 47-44.

The Warriors had a chance to go up by five on a beautiful long inbound pass play but missed the lay-up. Fulton rebounded the basket and went coast-to-coast to cut the lead to a point with 42.7 seconds remaining, trailing 47-46.

The Dragons get a big play on defense by Brown. Brown used his long wingspan to get a steal but he dribbled into traffic and the Warriors’ Jacob Miranda counters with a steal of his own to give possession back to St. Paul with less than 30 seconds remaining.

The Warriors then hold the ball and manage to burn 20 seconds off the clock before Andersen is forced to foul. The Dragons had two fouls to give and by the time they foul again there is 3.1 seconds remaining. Miranda steps to the line but missed the free throw. The Dragons retrieve the rebound but Miranda makes another key steal to secure the victory for St Paul.

“I’m happy we won the game but we got one more game to go. Our strategy for this game was to focus on boxing-out because they have alot of giants on their team,” said Miranda. Although they lost the rebounding battle, defense was the key to victory. “We have multiple defenses that we threw at them; once they figured out what defense we were running we then decided to throw another one out there”.

Borja had a game high 19 points for the Warriors, Sanchez contributed 10 points and four big steals. “We had that mentality of heart over height coming into this game. We just wanted work hard on every possession and grind out a win,” said Borja.

The win guarantees at least a share of the championship with one game remaining against the Bishop Obispos on Thursday. The Obispos are currently in the top four of the league suffering just two losses in their season. If Andersen wins their final game against St Anthony and the Warriors lose to the Obispos, then both teams will share the title.

Fulton had 12 points to lead the Dragons. Randy Angoco and Brown each scored 10 points for Andersen. The Dragons fall to 8-1, the Warriors improve to 9-0.

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