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Roosevelt one win from delivering boys basketball title to Roughriders community: ‘I think the dream is finally going to come true’

Roosevelt blows past Beaverton in OSAA 6A semifinal; Roughriders will face Central Catholic in Saturday's championship game

The question was answered in a nanosecond. 

As soon as he heard the question, Roosevelt junior Owen Nathan knew the answer.

“Seventy-five years,” Nathan said. 

“I think it was 1949,” immediately added teammate Chance White. 

The Roosevelt Roughriders — with Nathan, White, their teammates, their coaches and their community — are hoping to end quite a drought, looking to win a state championship in boys basketball for the first time since 1949. 

White scored 17 points, and Nathan had 14 points and 11 rebounds, leading No. 3 Roosevelt to a 73-45 victory over No. 7 Beaverton on Friday in the semifinals of the OSAA 6A boys basketball state tournament.

Roosevelt (26-2) will play for the state title against No. 1 Central Catholic at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Chiles Center in Portland.

“The community has been deserving of one for a very long time,” White said. “My goal when I first came here four years ago was to go get a state championship. We’ve got one more game. It would mean a lot to the city. It would mean a lot to the community. We’ve been talking about it for the longest. I think the dream is finally going to come true.”

The Roosevelt crowd — student section and the adults — celebrated just about every moment of Friday’s semifinal. The Roughriders took a five-point lead after the first quarter, crushed the Beavers in the second quarter to go up 21, and then cruised for most of the second half en route to the final.

“We’ve been playing together since middle school,” Nathan said. “This has been our goal since sixth grade, to come out here and win a state championship. The community has had our back the whole time. I love everybody out there. It’s amazing.”

It even took years to build that fan base, they said. 

“We finally got it. I think it’s going to take us all the way,” White said. 

“It fills your heart up,” Nathan said of the crowd.

Again, the crowd had a lot of moments to cheer Friday.

Nathan buried his first two shots — both 3-pointers — for Roosevelt’s first six points. White had a 3-pointer and a three-point play in the second quarter. The three-point play capped an 18-2 run for the Roughriders to go up 16 points. John “Money” Fernandez was, indeed, money, beating the final horn of the half with a 3-pointer to make it 38-17.

Grant Roosevelt 6A Oregon boys basketball quarterfinal 2024 Taylor Balkom 40

Roosevelt coach Jamarr Lawson had a message for his players at halftime.

“We need to stay humble,” he said. “Beaverton … we have a lot of respect for what they do and how they get their kids prepared. So, we knew they were going to continue to fight. Stay humble and hungry.”

Roosevelt pushed the lead to 23 points, but Beaverton did respond. A 7-0 run, led by Aidan Rice, gave the Beavers some momentum.

But Terrence Hill Jr. responded with a three-point play. The Roughriders pushed the lead to 23 again, and again, Beaverton tried to get back in the game. A four-point play from Rice made it a 15-point margin late in the third quarter.

Rice finished with 21 points and three assists for the Beavers. Beaverton’s 6-11 post, Chance Winter, fighting foul trouble all night, was held to five points and seven rebounds. He had four blocked shots. 

Roosevelt got back in charge with an 11-2 run from the end of the third period through the beginning of the fourth. Then the Roughriders just had fun the rest of the way.

White finished 5 for 9 from the field. He made three 3-pointers in his 17-point effort. Nathan had 11 rebounds, three assists and two steals. Hill had 11 points and four assists. DJ Johnson grabbed 11 rebounds.

“We just work so hard. We keep pushing, we keep fighting, we keep an even keel,” White said. “We just try to go win every game, give it our all. We have a great coaching staff and a great support group. … We’re just trying to keep pushing and get one more.”

This run to the final is not just for the team, but for the community.

“The camaraderie we have is insane out there,” Nathan said. “Our community has shown up to every single game. We can't thank them enough. With us coming together right now, we’re looking real scary.”

They also know their opponent, Central Catholic, is scary good, too. 

“We’re all friends off the court, but we’ve got 24 hours to lock in,” Nathan said. “We’re going to do everything to get our bodies right and come out ready (Saturday) at 4:30.”

“Central’s a great team,” White said. “Those are our friends off the court. It’s down to business now. … Last game of the season for us. My last game of my high school career. We’re just looking to give it our all and go out with a bang.” 

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Photo by Taylor Balkom