By Nanik Tagore—
Following word of the death of a former teammate, San Juan Spartans won the league championship against Esparto High School on Saturday, with a final score of 76 to 43.
Spartan Shooting Guard Narco Gallon came out hot, stealing the ball and finishing at the rim. Team co-captain Cesar Bejarano, performed on the glass and on defense.
Closing in on the 4th quarter, San Juan had an opportunity to let the younger players finish the game. The Spartans’ starters sat on the bench with the reality setting in that they had just won their first league championship in 10 years.
The buzzer went off and the Spartans descended on the court, cheering and hugging each other.
The game was played in honor of former basketball star and teammate Devin Johnson. San Juan High was notified that the 18-year-old Johnson died unexpectedly on Friday. Players on the team were emotional after receiving the news.
“It was very sad; you could just tell by the look on everyone’s face,” Junior Guard Ryan Martin said. “But we didn’t let the loss of our brother get to us on the court, he would have wanted one of us to win league and he was always supportive, even if he didn’t show up sometimes.”
With Saturday’s win, San Juan moves their league record to an impressive 11-1. Following the game, coach Fred Bryant recognized the senior players with a plaque and words of encouragement.
After Saturday’s game, The Spartans defeated Casa Roble 69-48 in a play-in game Wednesday night. The team will next take on Calaveras High School Friday at 7 p.m. in an away game.
*This article was published as part of a new collaborative effort launched by The Sentinel to cover local sports, featuring articles written by student journalists from Citrus Heights high schools.