The Jourdanton Indians finally met their match.
The Indians (20-2) fell behind early in their 67-58 regional semifinal loss to No. 25-ranked Santa Rosa on Friday. While they were able to cut the deficit on multiple occasions, their comeback bids fell short.
Instead of focusing on what could’ve been after the game, Jourdanton decided to look at what was during their 2020-2021 campaign.
“I told them after the game that we weren’t going to focus on what went right or went wrong tonight,” Head Coach Truman Reagan said. “We’re going to focus on the things that these kids have accomplished.”
Reagan went on to list those accomplishments, such as back-to-back undefeated district titles, back-to-back 20-win seasons and a record-tying playoff run that culminated in the regional semifinals for the second time in program history.
“It’s time to pat ourselves on the back,” Reagan added. “We haven’t done that very much and it’s time to do it. I’m proud of them.”
After Jarel Lilly hit one of his four three-pointers to open the game, Santa Rosa went on a 9-0 run over the next 3:15 to take a 9-3 lead. The Indians would rally to take the lead back at 10-9 with 2:41 left in the first when Clyde Schuchart put back an offensive rebound.
Jourdanton shot 28.5% from the field in the first quarter and committed eight turnovers while only forcing two. In the second quarter, Jourdanton settled down and shot 35% while forcing six turnovers and committing just two.
The Indians admitted they were a bit timid in their first regional semifinal trip since 2008.
“We finally calmed down,” Lilly said. “We played a little timid, a little scared, I think, in the first quarter. We just had to calm down and get into the second quarter.”
The Indians, trailing 31-21 with 2:50 left in the first half, needed to find a way to steal some momentum, however. Jourdanton would get an 8-2 run to close out the half with senior Payton Gonzales capping the run with coast-to-coast layup for an old-fashioned three-point play.
“It was huge. It was the play that we had been needing,” Reagan said. “We had been getting hacked under the basket all night. I kept wanting an and-one like that to get us turned around.”
Gonzales would finish the night with a team-high 23 points. Jourdanton’s senior point guard would trade those points if it meant the Indians went on to Saturday’s regional final.
“I was just focused on the win, whether I scored three points or 30,” Gonzales said. “It doesn’t matter. I just wanted to get the win with my brothers and continue playing.
After Jourdanton cut the deficit to one point twice early in the third, Santa Rosa used a 13-0 run to extend their lead to 48-34
with 2:34 left in the third frame. Jourdanton simply didn’t have an answer for Santa Rosa senior point guard Christian Vela, who shot 8-of-12 from the field and 4-of-6 from behind the arc for a game-high 25 points.
Jourdanton hadn’t seen Vela’s shooting ability on film during their prep leading up to the game.
“He’s so quick and our gameplan coming into today was to make sure he didn’t get drives and dish to other people for easy layups,” Reagan said. “Then he’s knocking down a three in your face when you’ve got a hand in his face. That’s just a playoff performance from that kid that was just unbelievable.”
But Jourdanton was not done.
After the Warriors’ lead expanded to 16 points, Jourdanton buckled down to try and deliver more magic like they had a week ago against Marion. The Indians went on a 14-5 run to pull within 57-50 with senior Josh Isaac capping the run with a putback layup with 2:27 left in the game.
Following that run, Santa Rosa kept the Indians at bay to seal the win.
“I’m just extremely proud of the brotherhood we created and the relationships we created with our coaches, just everything we were able to accomplish in the historical season we had over here,” Gonzales said.
Lilly finished as the only other Indian in double figures with 14 points, including four three-pointers. Despite the loss, the memory of the regional tournament trip will last a lifetime for the senior.
“It’s gonna be up there,” Lilly said. “We’ve been talking about this since my freshman year. As a four-year starter on varsity, it’s just been my goal to get here.”
Jourdanton will graduate 10 seniors from this year’s team, including four starters. But the Indians will look to reload rather than rebuild with five players from this year’s team returning.
“I was just talking to Clyde a while ago in [the locker room]. We were going to put him in the Santa Gertrudis game in the second round and I’ve never seen anyone more nervous in my life,” Reagan said before praising Schuchart’s growth between then and this season. “That’s the kind of growth I hope we can get from these other kids. Robert [Miranda] is gonna be a beast for us down low. … Seeing these 10 seniors and how they approached every practice, every game and never gave up, I think that’s huge in the long run for our program.”