Roybal wins City Division III title for coach battling cancer
There are moments in high school sports that become so emotional you can’t hold back tears, especially if you know the inside story.
Such was the scene on Thursday night at Granada Hills High, where Roybal High, the only unbeaten boys’ basketball team in Southern California, won its 19th straight, coming away with a 51-47 victory over Sun Valley Poly in the City Section Division III final.
As soon as the final buzzer went off, coach Danny O’Fallon collapsed on the floor by himself, putting his hands on his head as he kneeled on the court. Soon Isaac Torres, the quarterback for the football team and a reserve guard, was comforting him. Then the entire team arrived for a group hug.
It was on Nov. 30 when O’Fallon learned he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 intestinal cancer. He immediately told his team the news.
“Even when I told them they never blinked,” he said.
So there was O’Fallon, on the ground surrounded by his players, taking in the moment.
Asked what he was thinking, O’Fallon said, “How much these kids have worked and how l love them so much.”
Roybal entered the playoffs as only the No. 4 seed despite being unbeaten. No one knew how good the Titans really were because of a weak schedule. But they showed what makes them a good team — hustling for loose balls, gaining offensive rebounds and making clutch shots to take down the No. 2-seeded Parrots.
Jesus Rios scored 15 points and was seven for eight on free throws. Jonathan Siratt, who suffered a bloody cut over his eye in the first quarter, made two critical threes in the fourth quarter to help Roybal overcome five-point deficit in the second half. He finished with 14 points.
“He’s really sick,” Rios said of his coach. “It’s real emotional.”
Point guard David Rauda made three three-pointers and had 11 points.
“It means the world,” Rauda said. “We worked every day and did it for him.”
In the Division III girls’ final, Bell defeated Sotomayor 61-27. Sophomore Brissa Castillo finished with 31 points.
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