Playing in front of its home crowd for just the third time this season, the Santa Barbara High boys basketball team looked comfortable from the very beginning of its 73-35 victory over San Luis Obispo Friday night at JR Richards Gym.
Following their 65-45 victory over Cleveland High School Friday afternoon, the Dons had quite the encore performance in front of their home crowd. Santa Barbara (7-6) drained a season-high 11 three pointers from five different players in its win over the Tigers, which coach Corey Adam said may be twice as many as it has hit in any game so far this season.
“They just came together tonight,” Adam said of his team following the win. “They’re tired of being sick and hurt and they just said ‘we’re at home and we’re going to come do it.’”
After dropping a game-high 32 points against the Cavaliers, senior Bryce Warrecker scored 17 points in the night cap, including 11 points in the opening quarter to help Santa Barbara build a 22-9 lead at the end of the first. While Warrecker was providing the scoring punch for the Dons, it was the defense of Jackson Gonzales in the early going that got Santa Barbara rolling. Gonzales forced a number of steals and was able to use his quickness to disrupt the passing lanes and make things tough on the guards for the Tigers.
“That’s one thing we probably have on most teams is some speed,” Adam said. “It’s just about recognizing when to go and when not to gamble too much. The one thing with Jackson though is he can always make up for it. You can’t really teach that kind of speed.’
Senior Stephen Davis said that having Gonzales and his teammate on the gridiron Moki Nacario makes things easier for others on the defensive end.
“Both of them on the court at the same time, the offense is going to have trouble running what they want to run,” he said.
Behind some hot shooting from senior Vance Baldwin, Santa Barbara built a 37-17 lead at the half and continued to keep the pressure on the Tigers. Erik Strandberg scored six of his 11 points in the third, while Davis was also able to shoulder the load of offense. All 10 of Davis’ points came in the second half.
“I’m looking for him to do that more,” Warrecker said of his teammate. “His pull-up jumper he has, I don’t see many guys really being able to stop him. When he gets hot he’s hot, so we’ve got to find those times and get him the ball and the right opportunities. He’s a really good player and he’s going to help us out a ton.”
In the second half, Santa Barbara was running the offense through its senior point guard.
“Props to coach for putting his trust in me to get the ball and make the shots,” Davis said. “I appreciate that and I’m glad I could knock it down.”
Santa Barbara called a timeout with just over five minutes left in the third, and Adam said he told his team to get Davis the ball before attempting a shot.
“We had a little bit of trouble and guys wanted to shoot it early and we had to call another timeout and let them know that if they shot it before Stephen touched it a second time they’re coming out of the game,” Adam said. “I think that happened once before it kind of got through to them. He’s the returning league MVP, we’ve got to get the ball in his hands.”
Davis’ final jumper with around four minutes left pushed the Dons in front 62-30 before Santa Barbara was able to get its bench players into the game.
Santa Barbara was playing without Jasper Johnson, who missed the game due to an illness. Junior Andrew Douglas suffered a chip bone and tore a ligament in his elbow two weeks ago against Corona Del Mar and is out for the season.
The Dons have already played in six different tournaments throughout Southern California, along with games at St. John Bosco and Oak Park. Following the conclusion of this weekend’s shootout, Santa Barbara will again hit the road for a tournament in Ventura before visiting the Tigers and opening Channel League play at Santa Ynez Jan. 7. Adam said the long road trips have been a “good bonding experience” for the team, though he is looking forward to getting back to a normal practice schedule as the second half of the season approaches.
“I think we’ve had maybe one practice with everybody and maybe one game with everybody,” he said. “We haven’t come close to hitting our stride yet.”
Cardinals fall to Saints
Bishop Diego dropped its second consecutive game on Friday, losing to Crean Lutheran by a score of 67-42.
The Cardinals (8-8) were trailing at the half 40-18, as the Saints dropped eight three pointers in the first half. Down 52-26 after three quarters, Bishop went on a 12-0 run to open the final quarter before Crean Lutheran closed the game on a 15-4 run to secure the win.
Marcus Chan scored a team-high 11 for Bishop, while freshman Bryan Trejo added eight points.
“I thought we fought hard,” said coach James Coronado after the loss. “We were undermanned again and we knew that. Not just our size, but just our players missing and transfers out. But I thought we gave a better effort in the second half… we continued to play hard and that’s all you can ask for, especially as young as we are.”
The Cardinals were again without leading scorer Kai Morphy, who is out with the flu, as well as junior Matthew Cunningham, who has missed the past several games. Bishop will be adding a pair of sophomore transfers – Brian Lopez and Tyler Williams – who will be eligible to return on Dec. 28.
“Hopefully that will pay big dividends,” Coronado said. “Most of these guys had to step up… we have guys who are seventh or eighth guys (off the bench) who are playing starter minutes. It’s going to bode well for us in the long run, but we’ll definitely be happy to have those guys back.”
In earlier action on Friday, San Luis Obispo defeated Crean Lutheran 61-44. Cleveland will square off with San Luis Obispo today at 1 p.m. before Santa Barbara takes on Crean Lutheran at 2:30 p.m.