By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
INDUSTRY — When ever the Workman High School boys basketball team has needed a big play, this season it’s looked to guard J.P. Rodriguez.
The senior came through again on Wednesday.
Rodriguez nailed a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, than scored seven points in the extra period to help host Workman to a piece of its third consecutive Montview League title with a 61-55 victory over rival La Puente.
The senior had 26 points and Alan Matron and Joshua Paul Rodriguez had 13 each for the Lobos, who improved to 19-6 and 12-1 in league play. It’s also Workman’s fifth title in the past six seasons. La Puente, getting 15 points from Matthew Arguello and 13 and 11, respectivley, from Edvin Peraza and Enrique Ramirez, slipped to 13-11 and 10-3.
La Puente looked like it might get its own piece of the crown late in the fourth quarter after Ramirez buried a 3-pointer from the side for a 46-45 lead at 1:17 and Anthony Burchett made a layup for a 48-45 lead with 35 seconds left. But it was more than enough time for J.P. Rodriguez to respond.
The senior took a pass from James Magaway and nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to tie it at 48. La Puente had a chance for the win, but Peraza’s desperation 3-pointer was long at the buzzer.
Workman assumed control from the start of overtime. Joshua Paul Rodriguez made a layup for the lead at 3:01 and J.P. Rodriguez pushed it to 53-48 with a 3-pointer at 2:19. Matron followed with a 3-footer in the lane for a 55-49 lead, but La Puente countered with a 3-pointer by Peraza to pull within 55-52 with 1:08.
J.P. Rodriguez then made four free throws down the stretch to push it to 61-55 in the final minute.
Workman coach Martin Flores: “J.P.’s been our MVP all year and he made big shots. It’s been a challenging season for us, but we’re really proud that we did a 3-peat and our fifth title in the past six years, because this year for us was going to be a rebuiding year. I really proud of the boys and what they accomplished. They did what they needed to to do.”
La Puente coach Jason Aceves: “We took the lead on that 3-pointer by Kiki (Ramirez). We thought we could ride it out. We had done a good job denying the ball from their best shooter (Rodriguez), but he got open. You go from an extreme high to an extreme low. But it was a good shot. He was wide open and he hit it.”
J.P. Rodriguez: “James (Magaway) gave me a good pass. I was wide open, so I shot it.”