FLORIDA — With less than a minute on the clock, S.S. Seward head coach Joe DiMattina turned toward the bench and told his players, “Stand up when Alexa comes out.”
He couldn’t have timed it better, because as soon as DiMattina swung back around, Alexa Roach had stolen a pass and was sprinting down the length of the court. She finished the sequence with a layup, which gave her 32 points, tying a career high in Seward's 57-42 triumph over Tri-Valley on Friday.
The points that highlighted the night, however, were Roach’s first three. On Seward’s second possession of the game, Roach, as she so often does, dished it to a teammate, who found another teammate, who located an open Roach on the perimeter. Roach squared up her shot and swished the triple, putting her over 1,000 points for her career.
The 16-year-old junior is the 14th player to surpass the 1,000-point threshold at Seward, and with more than a year remaining in her high school career, Roach eyes a possibility to accomplish something greater.
Jenny Leo is the highest-scoring girl at Seward with 1,663 points. After the game, Alexa’s father, Matt Roach, was already calculating the averages his daughter would need to take the crown before she graduates in a year and a half.
DiMattina, who benched Roach late in the game before Tri-Valley so she would have a chance to hit the 1,000-point mark at home in front of friends and family, doesn’t see why Roach can’t end her career atop the school’s all-time list.
“Hey, who knows what happens the rest of the season and maybe she can become the all-time leading scorer,” DiMattina said.
The first and last minutes of Friday’s game were highlights for Roach, but like her basketball career, it’s what happened in the middle that showed why Roach is so valuable to the team.
She can play center or point guard, and everything in between. Despite being a scoring machine, Roach is eager to pass to give others a chance to score. Junior Ariadna Campos said Roach only offers words of encouragement on the court, never negativity.
“Alexa is one of the most inspirational players I’ve ever met,” Campos said. “Most of us have played with her since we were in second grade. She’s made me not only a better player, but a better person.”
Roach also possesses the skills to take care of business herself. In the second quarter against Tri-Valley, she drove the ball the length of the court and split a double team to shoot a layup. She missed, but grabbed her own rebound three times before getting fouled and sinking both foul shots.
It’s common practice to praise teammates when reaching an individual goal in a team sport, but Roach, after shrugging off her 32-point effort, was adamant.
“They helped me get to where I am today,” she said. “I don’t know what I would do without them.”
Denise Roach had few words to explain what her daughter had just achieved. Countless parents watch their children graduate, get married. Very few get to experience the same joy Matt and Denise felt Friday night.
“I’m really proud of her,” Denise said, full of emotion. “I don’t even know what to say.”
When DiMattina saw Roach run down the floor on a fast break to close out a career night, there were only three words on his mind: “This is perfect.”