Citrus Heights Sentinel Logo

San Juan High School celebrates Senior Night as basketball season wraps up

San Juan Spartans senior basketball players class of 2020, left to right: Alejandra Perez, Trinity Dudley, Cristian Angulo, Wyatt Winalski, Romeo Bryant, Elijah Vernon. // Marcus Smith

*Local sports coverage on The Sentinel is made possible by generous support from Stones Gambling Hall.

By Marcus D. Smith–
It was a true battle back and forth as San Juan High School girls and boys varsity teams battle-tested the Golden Sierra Grizzlies during the Spartans’ Senior Night on Friday.

The Spartans basketball program honored six seniors total, two from the girls team and four from the boys team. Trinity Dudley and Alejandra Perez represented the San Juan girls varsity basketball team, while Cristian Angulo, Romeo Bryant, Elijah Vernon, and Wyatt Winalski represented the boys varsity team.

The players were honored inbetween the girls and boys basketball game with flowers, chocolates, and mini basketballs that showcased their 2020 varsity basketball season.

The San Juan High School coaches and faculty put on a ceremony that highlighted the players and some of their greatest moments throughout their tenure as a Spartan leading up to their special evening.

“I got the privilege to play with these boys and especially with the young talent that’s on the team and I couldn’t be thankful enough for them, for a great season, and I’m just ready for baseball,” said boys varsity senior Wyatt Winalski.

Winalski will be playing baseball, which is his main sport. Winalski also played quarterback for the San Juan Spartans varsity football team.

As basketball comes to the end of the road for many of the students, most have plans to attend college after high school. Whether a two-year or a four-year college, the aspiration for higher education hasn’t decreased.

There is a certain empty feeling you get when there’s no more practices to attend, no more obligation to act for someone other than yourself. The end of high school sports can be a bittersweet reality to a lot of futures.

“It’s been an amazing three years for me, for my home girl (Alejandra Perez) it’s been an amazing four years for her,” said girls varsity senior Trinity Dudley of her teammate that she battled with. “Being able to be with that team is just amazing.”

Dudley plans to attend Sacramento City College to study for nursing school.

The bonds will forever hold value as the camaraderie that was created through the blood, sweat and tears that were shed fighting on the hardwood together will forever hold its core.

For the last four months, the seniors were able to set the bar for the next class of athletes, as they carry on the tradition of San Juan High School and continue to build on the culture that was established this past season.

“I think what I’m going to miss most is the connection that I created with all my teammates,” said girls varsity senior Alejandra Perez. “Being here for four years, that bond really gets strengthened (with the team) and with my coach who’s helped me tremendously over the last four years.”

Perez hopes to attend UC Berkley or UCLA next year.

She and her fellow teammates helped create a culture of hard work, dedication and passion, not only for the game but also for one another. The chemistry of the athletes translated on to the court because of the trust that was gained off the court.

The respect that was mounted was transcendent into the way the team interacted with each other. Through each win, loss, or hard battle, the Spartans retained a tight bond and could come to the defense of their fellow soldier when the time came about.

“They mean a lot, you know, making friends,” said boys varsity senior forward Cristian Angulo. “We’re a brotherhood now. It goes on for life and it feels good to have these memories.”

Angulo is looking to attend Sierra College or American River College, with hopes to walk-on and play sports.

San Juan Spartans Cheerleaders preparing for the senior night ceremony. // Marcus Smith

Both the girls and boys lost against the Golden Sierras Grizzlies. The boys lost by one point, 58-57, while the girls lost by seven, 37-30. San Juan High School basketball programs will not qualify for the playoffs. The outcome of the scoreboard and their playoff hopes was overshadowed by the meaningfulness of the evening and the ceremony that was put on for the kids.

“Tonight it was just about them, right?” said San Juan High School boys varsity head coach Fred Bryant, on the students’ Senior Night despite the losses. “[It] was about the seniors, for them it being their last home game of the year. How do they want to go out? Have fun, compete, everybody just have high energy.”

“I didn’t put a lot of emphasis on the game, but on the night and what that meant for them and their families,” said Bryant.

The season will officially conclude Tuesday, when the Spartans travel to Vacaville Christian to conclude the season.

Marcus D. Smith
Marcus D. Smith

Follow local sports with a subscription to The Sentinel for just $4/mo: click here to subscribe.

Sports Reporter Marcus D. Smith covers high school sports in Citrus Heights. Smith is a Sacramento-area native and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2017.

Like local news? Sign up for The Sentinel’s free email edition and get two emails a week with all local news and no spam, ever. (Click here)