Rojas Joins The Club

Jamestown Standout Scores 1,000th Career Point In Red Raiders’ 69-61 Victory Over Clarence

Jamestown’s James Rojas (4) is pictured with his teammates and a commemorative basketball after scoring his 1,000th career point during a win over Clarence on Friday evening at Jamestown’s McElrath Gymnasium. 
P-J photos by Valory S. Isaacson

Jamestown’s James Rojas (4) is pictured with his teammates and a commemorative basketball after scoring his 1,000th career point during a win over Clarence on Friday evening at Jamestown’s McElrath Gymnasium. P-J photos by Valory S. Isaacson

Entering this season, Jamestown High School had put a boys basketball team on the court every year since 1900. During the ensuing 116 campaigns there had been exactly nine players who had reached the 1,000-point career milestone.

Coach Ben Drake welcomed one more Red Raider to that exclusive fraternity Friday night.

Senior James Rojas poured in 33 points — his trey with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter pushed him past the 1,000-point barrier — to go along with 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals and four blocked shots to lead Jamestown to a 69-61 victory over Clarence in an Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division 1 game at McElrath Gymnasium.

“It’s a special accomplishment,” Drake said. “… We’ve had a lot of great players come through Jamestown over the years, so I’m really happy for him.”

The win improved the Red Raiders’ record to 9-4 overall and, most importantly, 7-0 in the league as they head into the final two weeks of the regular season.

Rojas puts up a shot in traffic as the Red Devils’ Henry Payne defends.
P-J photos by Valory S. Isaacson

Rojas puts up a shot in traffic as the Red Devils’ Henry Payne defends. P-J photos by Valory S. Isaacson

“We just need to keep plugging away in the league,” Drake said. “It’s especially important to get the home wins. We have some tough ones coming up.”

Continued contributions from Rojas’ supporting cast will help, too.

Junior Marcus Rojas scored 14 points to go along with seven rebounds; junior Matt Hill had 9 points; and sophomore junior varsity call-up Grant Moore added 6 points off the bench in an impressive varsity debut.

“Marcus played with good effort and hustle tonight, and that’s what we need from him,” Drake said. “Grant did an exceptional job. He’s had a good season on the jayvees and (he’s) been practicing with us for a couple weeks to give us more size. He’s been doing a good job and we thought we’d give him a shot, and he responded really well.”

Joe Olivieri had 18 points, Jack Putney collected 16 and Matt Zuffranieri chipped in with 10 for the Red Devils (6-9, 2-6), who have lost both games to Jamestown by combined 13 points.

“Clarence’s record is not very good, but they have not been blown out this year,” Drake said. “… They’ve been knocking on the door in a lot of games, but they just haven’t been able to finish.”

The Red Devils nearly made it a nail-biting finish as they rallied from a 15-point third-quarter deficit to trim the lead to four points, 62-58, following a pair of free throws by Zuffranieri with 1:09 remaining. And when James Rojas missed a pair of charity tosses with 44 seconds left, it appeared Clarence would get even closer. But Hill grabbed the rebound of the second missed free throw, was fouled and hit one of two from the line to push the lead back to five points, 63-58.

The Red Devils then missed back-to-back 3-pointers, and James Rojas converted six straight free throws in the final 22 seconds to preserve the win for Jamestown.

James Rojas, who now has 1,016 career points, stands at No. 9 on the school’s all-time list, five away from tying Donn Johnston, who played for the Red Raiders from 1967-69. Johnston earned a scholarship to the University of North Carolina where he played three years for Coach Dean Smith.

James Rojas has yet to confirm his college plans, but Drake said he’s scheduled to pay a visit to Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College next weekend. Hutchinson, an NJCAA Division I program, is currently 20-0 on the season and ranked No. 2 in the national poll.

“I think he feels good about it,” Drake said of the offer from the Blue Dragons. “Now it’s just a matter of going on his visit and feeling like that’s where he should be. I’m glad he has an opportunity to go, take his visit and watch a game. I think he’ll certainly know by the end of next weekend whether or not that’s a place for him.”

NOTES: The other nine members of the 1,000-point Club are Maceo Wofford, 2,259; Justin Johnson, 1,670; Zack Panebianco, 1,332; David Anderson, 1,172; Carlos Rivera, 1,149; Tommy Campion, 1,145; Mark Edstrom, 1,047; Johnston, 1,021; and Mike Maisto, 1,000. … With the postponement of today’s scheduled game vs. Irondequoit at Aquinas High School in the RAP Showcase, the Red Raiders don’t return to action until Tuesday when they travel to Williamsville South in a non-league game. They finish the week with an ECIC Division 1 game at Orchard Park on Thursday. … The Red Raiders were also victorious in the junior varsity game, 59-42. Shaheem Freeney scored 17 points and Kylen Faulkner added 14. They are now 7-6 on the season.

CLARENCE (61)

Kabayiza 0 2 2, O’Brien 1 0 2, Reinhardt 3 0 6, Knorz 0 0 0, Zuffranieri 3 3 10, Olivieri 8 2 18, Putney 6 0 16, Payne 1 1 3, Ireland 0 2 2, Trapp 1 0 2, Reger 0 0 0. Totals 23 10 61.

JAMESTOWN (69)

JRojas 10 11 33, Hill 3 1 9, Malarkey 1 0 2, Rosa 1 0 2, MRojas 5 4 14, Larson 1 1 3, Moore 2 2 6, Grant 0 0 0. Totals 23 19 69.

3-point goals — Zuffranieri, Putney 4, JRojas 2, Hill 2.

Clarence    12 11 15 23 — 61

Jamestown    16 18 16 19 — 69

Jayvees: Jamestown 59, Clarence 42.

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