Mario Perez graduated from Bell High, but the people at Los Angeles Roosevelt are finally beginning to accept him as a Rough Rider after eight years as basketball coach. This is a community that bleeds cardinal and gold. And if you’re from Garfield, watch out.
“I could be at a swap meet, at the mall and have my Roosevelt hat on and somebody will make a comment good or bad,” Perez said.
Right now, Roosevelt fans are pumped, because the boys’ basketball team is one win away from earning a trip to Sacramento to play for the Division V state championship. Roosevelt will play at Lancaster Eastside on Tuesday night in the Southern California regional final.
The team finished fourth in the Eastern League but won the City Section Division II championship.
Senior point guard Jose Arellano has been a star in the playoffs, averaging 21 points. “He’s a really good pick and roll player,” Perez said.
Sophomore shooting guard Johnny Gomez has gotten hot. He had 28 points in a playoff game against Sun Valley Poly. And 6-foot-4 senior center Cesar Romo has become an aggressive big man.
The Roosevelt community has been coming out en force to support the basketball team. It’s not quite like facing Garfield but the excitement is growing.
“It’s big for us,” Perez said.