Last Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, the number one high school basketball team in the United States came to Roosevelt to play the Riders. The Nathan Hale Raiders had always been an somewhat easy win in seasons past, but with a myriad of athletic transfers, the team made the jump from winning only three games last season to being undefeated and beating three other high school teams ranked within the top 25 of the nation.
With the anticipation building to watch such a great team play our Riders, many students skipped parts of their sixth period class in order to ensure a spot in the gym. In fact, the line stretched through the commons and into the hallways of Roosevelt. As Principal Vance and the security staff of Roosevelt gradually allowed people to file into the gym to first watch the JV girls game, then JV boys game, then varsity girls game, and finally varsity boys game. The gym was packed for all four of these games.
The night was full of surprises, the first being the exhilarating nature of the JV girls game with guard Soma Russell missing only one shot from the field while going for 20 points. Wing Julia Swanson also was the victim of physical attack from an opposing player which got the crowd riled up, to say the least. The girls got the win though, thrown punches aside. JV boys suffered a tough loss to a Nathan Hale team full of juniors and ex-varsity players who were moved down to make room for all of the transfers.
Varsity girls took care of business and cemented their place as one of the elite basketball teams in metro by snatching a sound win from Hale with sophomore guard Karmela Dean draining a multitude of three pointers. The seniors truly shined on senior night though, with senior guard Jojo Huletz showing that she has college level playmaking potential. All four seniors, along with every player on the team, contributed to the large win as the team looks forward to playoffs.
As the crowd became restless after nearly five hours of being in the Roosevelt gym, finally the varsity boys teams took the floor to warm up. The only problem was that Michael Porter Jr., the star of Hale’s team and a large reason for the sellout crowd, was in his street clothes and sitting on the bench, clearly not playing. As the teams warmed up and the crowd continued to buzz, local legend and critically acclaimed rapper Macklemore entered the gym through the side doors to show support for his former high school, Nathan Hale.
This caused lots of crowds and people to swarm which made the rapper move to a impromptu VIP section on the baseline. Finally the game began to start, with the Roosevelt student section starting the game by chanting “Michael’s scared” repeatedly while holding signs of Porter and his ex-girlfriend. This trend continued with the Hale student section retorting, and as the heat of the game continued so did the heat of the chants. Although the Riders fought hard with the five seniors on the team leading the way on senior night, Hale began to run away with the game. Many highlights took place and the game was in no way a disappointment to the eager crowd. Final score was 82 – 45, with Hale winning the game. The Roughriders look on to the playoff qualifiers after a tough loss to a team that has earned national ranking and respect.
Photos by: Taylor Powers