Spartans’ Boys and Girls Open Season with Wins


Photo by Brandon HENSLEY
Riley Gonzales (middle) fights for the ball against the Toll Titans on Sept. 24
Photos by Brandon HENSLEY


By Brandon HENSLEY

The new coach of the Rosemont Middle School girls’ basketball team liked what he saw in his team’s first game Sept. 24. The Lady Spartans hosted the Toll Titans, and thanks to a smothering defense, Rosemont ran away with a 35-4 victory.

Just how Bon Sam drew it up.

“I like their intensity. I like their drive … their willingness to learn,” said Sam, who takes over for Chris Bouchard this year after Bouchard led the girls to several championships in the four-team GUSD league.

Sam lives in L.A., but is familiar with Rosemont, having previously coached the after-school basketball program, which is not a part of this league. For Sam, his main goal may not be to win all six games this year, but to get every girl some playing time. He and his assistant coaches are carrying 21 girls.

He said practices are structured to focus on the first 12 players, which he calls the first string. Sam focuses more of his attention on the other nine. He said he has spoken to the girls, and they know that in a tight game a lot of them may not see time on the court. Not that he wants to deny anyone a chance.

“I want to be able to use all their abilities. I know I have a lot of kids, but I want to have a lot of kids,” he said.

The Spartans jumped on the Titans early, and forced many turnovers in their full-court press. The Titans simply weren’t ready for that kind of pressure. They didn’t score a point in the half, trailing 21-0 after 20 minutes.

Offensively, Rosemont’s Denise Dayag, sister of former Spartan player Rachel, led the way. Dayag scored 12 points in the 22 minutes, the only player in double figures. She also had two steals and two rebounds. Dayag exhibited a sweet shooting stroke. She even converted all six of her free throws.

“She has leadership, dribbling ability, and she works well with all the kids out there,” Sam said.

Riley Gonzales (above) led the team with nine rebounds, and put in eight points.

“I like their intensity. I like their drive, their willingness to learn,” Sam said of his team.

The Rosemont boys also played well against the Titans in their game, claiming a 45-27 victory. The boys, led by coach Brent Ballard, are looking to rebound after a year in which they lost twice, both times to the Wilson Knights. Wilson claimed the league title for the first time over Rosemont.

Eight-grader Tyler Carlson, who was the first-ever seventh-grader to start for Ballard last year, showed he might be the best player in the league. He scored a team-high 16 points, and pulled in six rebounds.

Danny Khani had 12 points, seven rebounds and five steals.

Both Rosemont teams are in action today starting at 3:30 p.m.

Team stats are courtesy of Craig Carlson.