Warrecker leads Santa Barbara to Channel victory on DP’s Senior Night
Dos Pueblos had the longing, but Santa Barbara was simply too long.
The Dons used their height to overcome a spirited Senior Night effort by the Chargers’ defense, recovering enough of their own misses for a 47-42 boys basketball victory at Sovine Gym Friday night.
“I’m so proud of my guys,” DP coach Joe Zamora said. “They bought into the game plan, they executed it … That’s just a big, long team.”
The victory keeps Santa Barbara (21-3, 6-0 Channel League), the second-ranked team in the CIF-Southern Section’s Division 3A, a game ahead of San Marcos in the conference race. DP (9-14, 3-3) remains in third place.
“The pressure is on us to keep winning,” Dons coach Dave Bregante said. “We’re not shooting the ball well, but the positive thing is that we’re finding a way to get it done. We’re finding a way.”
Eleven of the ways were their offensive rebounds. That helped Santa Barbara overcome a 32.7 percent shooting night, which included just 18.8 percent from three-point distance (6-for-32).
The Dons’ 6-foot-8 Bryce Warrecker dominated the backboards and also made 2-of-5 from three to score a game-high 19 points.
But Zamora had concocted a zone defense earlier this week to limit the drives of Santa Barbara playmakers Stephan Davis and Jackson Hamilton.
“We have some specific slides and some specific double-teams that we do, depending on what their counters are,” Zamora said. “We’ve been experimenting with some things to slow teams down … A team like that.
“I don’t want them running — they’re scoring 70, 80 points a game. We’re a team that can’t score 70, 80 points.”
Jasper Johnson had the Dons on the verge of a runaway in the first quarter. He made three straight baskets including a three-pointer off Warrecker’s pass to cap a 12-3 run for Santa Barbara. He finished with 16 points.
Aiden Douglas capped the outburst with another three as the Dons took their lead into double-digits, 18-8.
“That first quarter, that was a hard one,” Zamora said. “Too many kids were over-pursuing, and they were penetrating and kicking out to their shooters.
“But once we made the adjustments, I was proud of our guys.”
They held the Dons’ three-point shooters to just 4-for-27 the rest of the night.
“I think the kids are disappointed that we’re not shooting the ball better,” Bregante said. “When you’re a good shooter and you’re missing, it becomes a mental thing. We’re used to making shots.
“We’ve just got to get some confidence. We’ll have a couple of practices on Saturday and Monday and get ready for Cabrillo on Tuesday.”
Baylor Huyck shot DP back into the game, making a trio of threes in the second quarter — all on plays created by Jaron Rillie.
Rillie, a 6-foot-1 point guard hit a three of his own as the Chargers rallied to within 26-22 by halftime. He finished with a team-high 14 points
“They’ve got one of the better players in the league,” Bregante said of Rillie. “He can take the ball to the basket, he shoots threes … He’s tough.
“He kept them in the game, and Baylor (Huyck) hit some big shots.”
Rillie was just getting warmed up. He put the Chargers ahead, 32-30, after sinking two more threes in the third quarter. The shots sandwiched his fast-break pass that fed Alex McCeney’s layup on a sequence started by Kelen Pisacane’s steal.
“I say it every time I’m interviewed: If I had five Jarons, I’d be really successful,” Zamora said. “He understands the game. He understands how to get the ball to his teammates. He wants the ball in his hand.
“I’m so confident that he’ll make the right decision, even when he gets double- and triple-teamed, he knows where to find guys … And he does. He’s a great young man.”
Santa Barbara eked out a 35-34 lead by the end of the third quarter when Johnson sank a corner three and two free throws on consecutive trips down court.
The Dons added more threes by Warrecker and Jackson Gonzalez to start the fourth period, pulling ahead 43-35.
But the Chargers charged back with a runner by Pisacane, Rillie’s fourth three-pointer, and a free throw by McCeney to get back within one possession, 43-40.
DP’s last chance came after a driving basket by Andrew Guardino trimmed Santa Barbara’s lead to 45-42 with 42 seconds remaining.
But Johnson settled matters by making two free throws with eight seconds left.
“Jasper making those free throws took some pressure off us,” Bregante said.
The Dons were 9-for-11 from the line overall.
“These kind of games are going to help us down the road, teaching us how to win when things aren’t going very well, and just grind it out,” Bregante said. “That’s just what we have to do: Grind it out.
“We’ll take it and move on.”