Riders end storybook season

Roosevelt played like champions, but No. 1-ranked Central Catholic played near-flawlessly in defeating RHS 85-76 to win the state title before a sellout crowd of 4,852 at the Chiles Center on March 9.

Roosevelt controlled most of the first half leading at halftime 43-36 but Central Catholic switched to a zone defense in the second half, thwarting Roosevelt’s penetrating into the key, and the Riders could not make up the difference with outside shooting.

The Rams outscored RHS 30 to 8 in the third period to take a 66 to 51 lead. The Riders could get no closer after that than the final nine-point margin at the buzzer.

RHS player Chance White during at state playoffs
RHS player Chance White during at state playoffs

After the game, RHS Coach Jamarr Lawson spoke of how deeply disappointed the players were, but explained the larger truth, “This has been a tears-of-joy experience and I reminded them of what they’ve accomplished this year.” No question about that. The Riders achieved the school’s highest finish since the 1949 team won the state championship.

The Chiles Center crowd energized both teams from the tip-off with multiple lead changes and frenetic play as the first quarter ended 18-18 tie. The Riders played superbly in the second quarter with Utrillo Morris driving for layups and dishing for assists, and Terrence Hill raining treys. Roosevelt built a 40-27 lead although some ill-timed technical fouls allowed Central to only trail 43-36 at half.

“This is a big-time game and everyone wants to win but we have to keep our emotions through adversity when there’s some calls you don’t like,” Lawson said.

Hill paced the Riders with 23 points, followed by Owen Nathan with 15, and Morris and Chance Hill with 14 and 12 points respectively. Rams star 6’4” guard Isaac Carr was the game’s leading scorer with 26 points who coincidentally signed a letter of intent with the University of Oregon. 

Roosevelt completed the season with a stellar 26-3 record and made an indelible impression on North Portland fans. The feeling was mutual. “We know that the community really had our back,” Nathan said.