Roosevelt senior guard Chance White made seven three-pointers in last week's win over Lincoln. (Photo by Andre Waymond)
Roosevelt senior guard Chance White made seven three-pointers in last week's win over Lincoln. (Photo by Andre Waymond)

Gut-wrenching playoff defeats in the last two seasons have infused Roosevelt's boys basketball team with a new resolve this season.

The senior-led Roughriders, who lost in the 6A quarterfinals in 2022 on a last-second tip-in and in the second round last year after leading by 17 points, are determined to make the most of another opportunity.

And riding an 11-game winning streak since a season-opening loss to two-time reigning 6A champion Tualatin, they are showing perseverance and maturity.

“We're just in a mentality this year where we're just not going to be satisfied,” said Jamarr Lawson, who took over as coach this season after four years as an assistant. “We're keeping an open mind for growth. That's been our kryptonite in the past, celebrating too early and forgetting the purpose.

“We're just humble and hungry, and really excited about the potential to be a state champion in March. That's what we wrote on the wall at the beginning of the year.”

Roosevelt, ranked No. 3 in the OSAAtoday 6A coaches poll, stands alone in first place in a hotly contested Portland Interscholastic League at 4-0. In the team's last game – an 87-81 home win over Lincoln on Jan. 9 – senior guard Chance White made seven three-pointers and scored a season-high 29 points and senior guard Terrence Hill Jr. added 22 points and 10 assists.

The Roughriders have arguably the state's most experienced and potent backcourt with the 6-foot-3 Hill (22.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists), 6-1 White (16.3 points) and 5-9 senior Utrillo Morris (5.8 points). The Utah State-bound Hill, who averaged 19 points per game as a freshman and sophomore before spending his junior year in Arizona, is “happy to be back home,” according to Lawson.

“One of his goals was to bring a state title to Roosevelt,” Lawson said. “His focus is a lot different than it was in his younger years. He's not having bad posture, bad body language, but really talking to guys and huddling guys up. It's a much more mature Terrence Hill.”

Hill's drive is rubbing off on White and Morris.

“When he's around, they're in the gym more,” Lawson said. “It's a different approach when Terrence is around because he's a gym rat."

Roosevelt does not have a victory over a team currently ranked in the top 10 of the 6A coaches poll. But the Roughriders defeated 5A No. 1 Summit 54-48 and are the only team to beat Eastside Catholic, the top-ranked 3A team in Washington, topping the Crusaders 70-68 in the final of the Hardwood Invite at Parkrose on Dec. 20.

Roosevelt was tied with Eastside Catholic in the final seconds when Morris came off a ball screen and found junior guard Owen Nathan for the game-winning layup.

“Eastside Catholic showed us who we can really be, and what our team identity is,” Lawson said. “I was really excited to be able to get over that hump. We've been in a lot of situations where we haven't been able to pull out those type of gritty games, so that just showed us what staying engaged and focused and sticking to the game plan can do for us.”

Lawson said the 58-55 loss to No. 5 Tualatin – the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season – was a much-needed “wake-up call” for the Roughriders.

“It definitely humbled us and made us understand early that anybody can be beaten on any give night,” Lawson said. “It's a year where it's about whoever's going to put together the best 32 minutes. We still don't believe that we've done that up until this point.”

Roosevelt is loaded at guard, but must shore up its interior defense and rebounding to make a title run. The Roughriders need players such as 6-6 senior Demir Johnson, 6-6 sophomore Syrius Owens, 6-4 junior Jehiel Brown and 6-2 senior John Fernandis to play big inside.

Against Lincoln, Roosevelt was hurt by the post play of seniors Tanner Overby and Evan Heisler, who combined for 55 points.

“That's the story of our life,” Lawson said. “That's been our biggest challenge so far. We just don't know who that guy is right now consistently.”

Hill has called out the big guys, reminding them that he leads the team in rebounding as a guard.

“He says, 'How is that happening?'” Lawson said. “A lot of guys right now don't appreciate Terrence Hill being our leading rebounder. He reminds them after every game.”

Winter out

Beaverton, ranked No. 4 in 6A, has been playing without one of its key pieces in 6-11 senior center Chance Winter, who has signed with College of Idaho.

Winter broke his wrist on a dunk attempt with one minute left in the team's 76-67 win over No. 7 Barlow in the Les Schwab Invitational on Dec. 29. He broke a small bone above the pinky finger on the outside of his hand.

Without Winter, the Beavers (8-5, 0-1 Metro League) have dropped two of three games. They lost to No. 2 Southridge 85-67 in their last game at the LSI, beat West Linn 67-63 and fell to Mountainside 51-45 in their league opener Jan. 10.

Coach Andrew Vancil said Beaverton is “not the same team” without Winter. The Beavers are hoping Winter will be back for their home game against Southridge on Feb. 9.

“We struggle to rebound against physical teams,” Vancil said. “Mountainside and Southridge both beat us up pretty good on the glass without him and that was the difference. I am excited to get him back.”

Notes: No. 2 North Eugene (13-2, 3-0) picked up a big home win in the 5A Midwestern League on Friday by downing No. 9 Crater 83-64. India Mohiuddin, a 6-4 senior wing, scored 26 points and senior wing Jonas Spencer added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Highlanders. The Comets (12-3, 2-1) got 20 points from junior Kyle Bittle. … Cascade Christian 7-0 senior Austin Maurer collected 40 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocks to lead the No. 1 Challengers past visiting St. Mary's 84-47 in a 3A Far West League game Saturday. … No. 10 Marist Catholic (9-5, 1-0) posted a 44-37 victory over No. 2 Junction City (12-2, 0-1) in a 4A Sky-Em League game on Friday. It was Junction City's first regular-season league loss in three seasons. … South Medford held on for a 58-57 home win over Sheldon on Thursday, surviving three shot attempts from Irish guard Rocco Graziano in the last 20 seconds. Jackson Weiland led the Panthers with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists. … West Albany's Gavin Aguilar, a 6-1 junior guard, put up 11 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, seven steals and two blocks to lead the Bulldogs past visiting Silverton 65-56 on Jan. 11.