Santa Rosa Ready for ‘Cinderella’ Team’s Semifinal Appearance

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SANTA ROSA – The Santa Rosa Warriors boys basketball team is getting ready for another trip to the Final Four in the state tournament this week.

But it's not just the players and coaches that are prepping for the big game.

Subtle hints around Santa Rosa make it easy for visitors to see this small town’s unwavering support for their team.

"What basketball means to the city of Santa Rosa - like we are basketball. Santa Rosa is basketball," said Rachel Olivarez, a town resident and Warriors supporter.

It's the talk around town. Once again, the Santa Rosa Warriors are headed to the state semifinals.

"It's not just, ‘Oh, that's a player. That’s so-and-so’s son, that's my neighbor,” said Santa Rosa alumni and teacher Marcy Cuevas. “So everybody feels invested in this because they feel like they're part of these kids too.”

A win in the regional game this past weekend is giving people around town renewed hopes about a state title.

"After losing so much talent from last year, nobody believed they would get this far or even get past the first round," Olivarez said. "So, this is literally considered the Cinderella team, and it's just, I don't know, this team is like extra special."

Warriors Head Coach Juan Cipriano said his team is working hard. He said they also have chemistry.

"They're playing as a team. They're working hard every day, they've come a long way," the coach said. "They continue to listen and continue to do what I ask of them. They get along really well outside the floor, and that helps when we are on the floor.

Cipriano said as a basketball player back in his day, the warriors never even made it to the regional finals.

He said as the head coach, this is the third team he leads to the semifinals. By now, he said, it's like having a green thumb in gardening.

"You feed it when you have to, you water it every now and then, you cut it when you need to, and every now and then you also have to pull out some bad weeds," Cipriano said. "If you can do that, then you have a nice lawn. So we have a nice program here."

Local Pastor Jose Cruz Cervantes attributes the teams' success this year to lots of talent, and of course, a little divine intervention.

"These kids have a big vision," Cervantes said, "and they're determined to go far."

It's this town's team spirit that coach "CP" hopes will give his athletes that extra push to play Warrior basketball and to go all the way.

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