BOYS PREP BASKETBALL: Will Power
Will Rottman’s first cross-town rivalry basketball game on the opponent’s hardwood made for a night he won’t soon forget.
Rottman’s 25 points and stellar work controlling the backboards led the Dons to a 60-46 victory Tuesday over San Marcos at Maury Halleck Gymnasium to clinch the Channel League championship.
“I was kind of anxious for it the whole day,” Rottman said after the game. “It was the same feeling I had for volleyball, which I haven’t really had for basketball. And I was able to take advantage of it and played off the crowd.”
Rottman went in for a one-handed slam early in the first quarter but came up empty. The San Marcos student section erupted and taunted the senior, but Rottman was able to recover and put together the best game of his basketball career.
“I kind of fed off it in a way,” said Rottman, who earlier this year signed his National Letter of Intent to attend Stanford on a volleyball scholarship. “They were getting physical and at first, because of my personality, I got a little bit upset, but I was able to channel that in a good way which helped a lot.”
The shots the Dons didn’t hit seemed to find Rottman all night. On a night where both teams were having difficulty hitting shots, Rottman’s energy and hustle on the boards proved large.
“He was the big X-factor,” said Royals coach Jelani Hicks. “He definitely changed the game for them in a major way.”
San Marcos (13-8, 7-2 Channel League) got off to a good start and jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the opening minutes. After pulling ahead 13-6 and ending the first quarter up 13-8, the Royals were held scoreless until 3:35 to go in the 2nd quarter.
The Dons (24-3, 9-0), who came in ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section’s Division 3A, were able to control the game on the defensive end and prevent San Marcos from gathering any more momentum. Santa Barbara went into the half with a 23-18 advantage at the half.
“We just never found a rhythm,” Hicks said. “We were pretty stagnant on offense and just couldn’t get any flow. It was just attack-attack-attack and that type of style suits them better than it suits us.”
The first half intensity showed that both teams came ready to battle. Both teams were able to display athleticism and toughness, but Santa Barbara remained in control.
The teams exchanged blows in the 3rd quarter, as San Marcos came out firing. It was a back and forth contest through 3 periods before the Dons took over and carried an 8-point advantage into the 4th quarter.
After the Dons jumped out to a 49-35 lead, San Marcos was able to bring the game to within 10 points with just over four minutes to play. With just under 3 minutes to go, Rottman threw down a two-handed jam to give his team the momentum.
Both sides were scrambling for a loose ball with 30 seconds remaining when Aiden Douglas tossed it up to Rottman for an emphatic, one-handed jam to seal the win. The set up looked more like a volleyball set than an alley oop, but the result was undeniable.
“The adrenaline was going and that got me a couple inches higher,” Rottman said.
Dons coach Dave Bregante said he couldn’t recall coaching a game where his team only hit one three-pointer and still came away with a win.
“I was getting worried because we weren’t shooting the ball really well,” he said.
Bregante said Rottman has “no conscious” and still has room to improve, but was pleased with how he handled himself in such a big game.
“He was looking forward to this game because everybody was talking about how high Beau Allen jumps and Beau Allen this and Beau Allen that.”
Both teams know each other well, and Santa Barbara was able to take advantage on the interior and control the game, Bregante said.
Stephen Davis tossed in 12 points in the victory, and the Dons also got a solid contribution from big man Bryce Warrecker, who added 11 points and helped control the paint on both ends.
For San Marcos, freshman Shakir Ahmad, Allen and Tommy Condon each finished with 12 points.
The victory gives Santa Barbara a two-game lead over San Marcos with one game remaining on Thursday at Lompoc. The Royals will travel to Cabrillo.