The Rio Dell boys saved the best for last this season, winning the C Division championship at the 53rd annual Crescent City Jaycees Eighth Grade Basketball Tournament in dramatic fashion over the weekend.
The Rio Dell Monument Middle School team, made up of mostly seventh graders, had to dig deep in the championship against Redwood Prep, rallying from an eight-point deficit in the final 40 seconds to win 56-53.
After struggling for much of the season as they adapted to playing at the eighth-grade level, the young Rio Dell players grew in stature as the season went on and capped a memorable campaign with the big win on Saturday.
Eighth-graders Paris Magdaleno and Ty Roberts led the late surge and scored the final 11 points between them, with Magdaleno scoring eight points to tie the game before Roberts nailed the game-winning 3 at the buzzer.
Magdaleno and Roberts were each named all-tournament after their late heroics, as was seventh-grade teammate Ray Osorio, who came up with a big steal to set up the game-trying basket in the dying seconds.
Seventh grader Brooks Barrote also had a big tournament and played one of his best games of the season in the big finale.
First-year coaches Cris Licona and Juliana Ortega-Miranda played a big role in helping develop this team, which started slow but gradually built momentum as the season progressed.
“As a parent, I think these two young coaches did a good job keeping these players together,” Paris’ father Myke Magdaleno said.
The roster also included eighth-grader Jason Conners, as well as seventh graders Davin Barrote, TJ Xiong and Andrew Pape.
“What was special to me about this team is that even though they struggled (early in the season) because they were young, they eventually all found their roles on the team and stuck together,” Myke Magdaleno said.