Orestimba’s Charles Roth is the school’s fifth boys basketball coach in the last five years, a period that has seen the Warriors go 30-76. In trying to create stability and a positive attitude, the team has only to look at senior Emanuel Bautista.
Roth said Bautista is a special needs student.
“He tried out for the team, and I believe in giving every kid an opportunity,” Roth said. “So I kept him on the team. He’s a great kid. He’s an influence on all the kids around, and not just on our team.”
When Roth put Bautista in the game in the first half, and again as time wound down in the fourth quarter, the senior ran to his spots with precision and enthusiasm – in fact, he ran with enthusiasm when coming on and off the court.
“It’s just an uplifting energy. Not really any sports-type energy, more just a great vibe,” Roth said. “When a kid is down, they can look at him, and he’s uplifting.”
The team’s goal when Bautista entered the game for the last possession was to get him a shot.
“I know from day one in practice, he couldn’t make a layup or do certain things,” Roth said. “But in the last couple of weeks he’s been hitting the rim, and the kids have gone crazy, so I felt he should get in there and get a chance to at least shoot it a few times.”
Bautista got his chance – he took four shots as time wound down, one from beyond the 3-point line. With each miss, his teammates got the rebound and passed it back to him. Even Los Banos’s Michael Severino got into the act, tossing a rebound back to the Orestimba senior.
Bautista’s fifth shot found its mark, banking off the glass and through the net to draw a cheer of approval from both teams and the crowd. His teammates mobbed him under the basket like his shot had won them a championship.
“His reaction after he made the shot was he came over and says, ‘I feel like a hero. I feel like a hero, Coach,’” Roth said. “He gave me a hug, and he even gave the Los Banos coach a hug.”