Little Brother’s Day
Elijah Rojas Scores 20 In Red Raiders’ Victory
James Rojas and his Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College basketball team are next scheduled to take the court Wednesday evening.
Until then, however, the former Jamestown High School great will have to defer family hoops bragging rights to his younger brothers.
Freshman Elijah Rojas poured in 20 points to go along with three assists and five steals, and senior Marcus Rojas added 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists to propel the Red Raiders to a 69-58 Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division 1 victory over Lancaster at McElrath Gymnasium on Monday afternoon.
The win, which improved Jamestown’s record to 8-3 overall, puts it in sole possession of second place in the division with a 4-1 mark. Continued strong play from the Rojas duo will serve the Red Raiders well heading into the final month of the regular season. Together, they shot 16 of 24 from the floor and each spearheaded important runs to keep the Legends (3-6, 1-3) at bay.
Elijah Rojas’ fourth quarter was particularly impressive.
With Jamestown leading by only three points, 47-44, heading into the final quarter, the 5-10 guard put on a show during a three-minute stretch that transformed a four-point lead into an 11-point cushion that proved to be the difference.
First, Elijah Rojas nailed a trey from the wing, hit a free throw, scored on a drive following a nifty pass from teammate Henry Malarkey and, after a layup by Kameron Grant, made a steal that resulted in cashing two more free throws that pushed the Red Raiders’ lead to 61-50 with a shade under two minutes remaining.
“He was huge tonight,” Red Raiders’ coach Ben Drake said of Elijah Rojas. “That was by far the best I’ve seen him play at both ends of the floor. … It’s been a process with him. … The first six or seven games he was very hesitant. The last few you could just see that things are starting to slow down for him. He’s just more comfortable and confident.”
Jacob Jerebko, who finished with a game-high 24 points, nailed two treys in the final minute to pull Lancaster within six points, 63-57, with 42 seconds left, but Red Raiders senior Matt Hill (14 points) and Malarkey combined to hit 4-of-6 free throws and Elijah Rojas converted a steal into a layup to put the game out of reach.
Until Jamestown was finally able to separate from the Legends in the final period, the game was a series of runs. The Red Raiders started the second half on an 13-2 surge to take a 13-point lead, highlighted by layups by Malarkey, Elijah Rojas, Marcus Rojas and Hill, a trey by Elijah Rojas and another layup Shaheem Freeney.
Not surprisingly, Marcus Rojas, who sat out nearly the entire second quarter with foul trouble, was in the middle of it all, as he had three assists during that stretch and showed why he is the team’s go-to player.
“Marcus has been very consistent for us,” Drake said. ” … When he wasn’t in there, you could see a difference in the game.”
But Lancaster didn’t quit, using a pair of treys from Jerebko to close to within, 47-44, heading into the final period.
“I feel like we still have room as a team to improve a lot defensively,” Drake said.
But the youngest member of the team came up big down the stretch, allowing Jamestown to win for the fifth time in its last six games.
NOTES: Jamestown shot well from the floor, connecting on 25-of-44 shots. … Hill had five rebounds and nailed a pair of 3-pointers. … Lancaster shot 20 of 47, but was 8 of 19 from the arc. Five of the makes from distance were by Jerebko. … Teammate Tyler Sokolowski was the other Legend in double figures with 17 points. … Jamestown returns to action Thursday when it travels to McDowell (Pa.) High School. The Red Raiders’ next home game is Jan. 23 when they entertain McKinley in a non-league game. … Lancaster won the junior varsity game, 44-41. … Simeon Leeper led Jamestown (4-6) with 13 points and Andrew Dix chipped in 11.
Rogowski 1 1 3, Tamburri 2 2 7, Backert 0 0 0, Mansell 2 0 4, Fulciniti 0 0 0, Garry 0 0 0, Sokolowski 7 1 17, Jerebko 7 5 24, Morgus 1 1 3, Harrington 0 0 0. Totals 20 10 58.
Hill 4 4 14, ERojas 7 4 20, Grant 3 2 8, Faulkner 0 0 0, Malarkey 1 3 5, Crofoot 0 0 0, MRojas 9 0 18, Freeney 1 2 4. Totals 25 15 69.
3-point goals–Tamburri, Sokolowski 2, Jerebko 5, Hill 2, ERojas 2.
Lancaster 16 14 14 14 — 58
Jamestown 19 13 15 22 — 69
Jayvees: Lancaster 44, Jamestown 41