Stroman, Victoria High take rivalry to court

Marcus Gutierrez By Marcus Gutierrez

Aug. 12, 2017 at 10:15 p.m.
Updated Aug. 12, 2017 at 10:24 p.m.

Greg Ruiz, left, a Stroman High School alumnus, chases down Derek Ozuna, a Victoria High School alumnus, during Saturday's alumni basketball game at the Stroman Middle School gym.

Greg Ruiz, left, a Stroman High School alumnus, chases down Derek Ozuna, a Victoria High School alumnus, during Saturday's alumni basketball game at the Stroman Middle School gym.   Nicolas Galindo for The Victoria Advocate

Greg Ruiz was unhappy with the way he practiced this week.

Ruiz, 43, wanted to make sure his shot and ball handling skills were in order as his Stroman High School alumni teammates took on crosstown rival Victoria High on Saturday.

"I went to shoot around this week, and it didn't go that well," said Ruiz, who graduated from Stroman High in 1992. "I knew that I needed to run and do a little bit more to get my legs under me to play better."

Ruiz scored 10 points and was named Most Valuable Player as the Raiders defeated the Stingarees 34-32 in overtime in the Old Schoolz Alumni Basketball game at the Stroman Middle School gym.

The Raiders and Stingarees rivalry needed a two-minute overtime period to settle the game.

Stroman won the last game in 2015 in double overtime, while Victoria High won in 2014.

"It's hard to explain this rivalry," said Ruiz, who was a four-year letterman point guard for the Raiders basketball team. "We have always worked hard on this side of town and earn everything. It was great to be out here with people you grew up with as a kid."

With 7 seconds left in overtime, Stroman's Lee Todd drove the baseline and went up for the reverse layup but missed.

With time still on the clock, two Victoria High players hit the net, and the referee whistled for a goal-tending violation to send the the Raiders to the victory as time expired.

"I was just thinking I had to hit the bucket," said Todd, who graduated in 1992 from Stroman. "I missed it, but it was goaltending. A win's a win, and we will take it."

In order to participate in the game, a player must have at least played one year of varsity basketball for the Raiders or Stingarees.

"This atmosphere was great," said Miracle Fingers Reed, who has organized the event since the first game back in 2014 and graduated from Victoria High in 1992. "Seeing all these people here makes you remember how the community supported sports when we were in high school. Whenever you can pack a gym, it makes the competition level go up."

Ruiz got the Raiders off to a hot start, scoring seven of his 10 points to give Stroman a 12-4 lead after one quarter.

"I was feeling it," Ruiz said. "I got into a little groove, and we were able to start off the game good."

The Stingarees outscored the Raiders 8-0 in the second quarter to tie the game at 12 at halftime.

Chris Johnson, who scored 10 points and was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player of the game, scored four points in the second for the Stingarees.

"It felt like old times," said the 33-year-old Johnson, who played two years at Victoria High and two years at Memorial High School. "It felt good to see everyone come out and support us. We came up short, but we're just out here to have fun."

Victoria High outscored the Raiders 12-11 and took a 24-23 lead over the Raiders, their first lead of the game.

Both teams battled back in the fourth, but Edwin Bell made 1 of 2 free throws to send the game into overtime.

The Raiders now lead series 2-1 over the Stingarees.

The game was not played in 2016 due to the lack of interest, and its future is still uncertain for next year.

"Today I had more people tell me that this can't be the last game," said Reed, who played college basketball at Blinn Junior College and McNeese State in Lake Charles, La. "If I can round up the troops next year, we will have another game."

NOTES: The women's shootout ended in a tie with a score of 110 points for each team.

The women competed in a shooting obstacle, free throws, 3-pointers and layups.

Sylvia Dean, Shay Porter and Kendra Etlzer-Walker participated for Stroman.

Reed, Jennifer Keen, Jacy Buckner and Yvonne Galvan Reyes participated for Victoria High.

Stroman 34, Victoria High 32

Points - (Stroman) Greg Ruiz 10, Chad Thomas 3, Thorlon Greg 6, Lee Todd 7, Edwin Bell 4, Vernon Todd 2, Curtis Porter 2. (Victoria High) Chris Johnson 10, Benny Stanley 10, Dwayne Upton 2, Eric Leftwhich 4, Tim Bassano 3, Jeremy Chase 3.


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