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Athletic Round Table Luncheon: Westmont Basketball Coaches Share Holiday Travel Stress

Brian Medel and family Click to view larger
Brian Medel, left, was named the Special Olympics Soccer Coach of the Year in the Southern California Region. He is joined by his wife, Tina, and son, Gabe at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon. Gabe was honored as Carpinteria High’s Phil Womble Ethics in Sports Award recipient. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

Westmont basketball coaches Kirsten Moore and John Moore were comparing notes on whose team had the more challenging road trip during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend: driving through a snowstorm in Montana or battling the gridlock of the L.A. freeway system.

“We braved the elements and went up to Montana in the middle of a storm,” Westmont women’s basketball coach Kirsten Moore said at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon. “We braved the ice and snow and limped along the road a few times. But we were safe.”

Westmont men’s coach John Moore playfully debated that his team’s trip to Orange County was more difficult.

“We too braved the elements,” he said, tongue in cheek. “We went down to L.A. and we fought traffic and fought traffic and … It was harder than going to Montana, trust me. A lot harder.”

While admitting his team didn’t play the level of competition the women’s team faced in Montana, John Moore is excited about his group, which enters GSAC play this week at Arizona Christian and Ottawa, Ariz., with a 5-1 record. He said the play and leadership of Olisa Nwachie has been fantastic and the contributions from players like Max Hutchins and Matt Ramon have been huge.

John Moore also gave a shout out to new assistant Landon Boucher, who returned to his alma mater after leading San Marcos to its first CIF boys basketball title last season.

“He’s added a lot to our coaching staff and added a lot to our defense,” said Moore.

Kirsten Moore said the temperature got as low as 4 degrees during their stay in Montana, where her Warriors faced perennial NAIA National Tournament participants Providence (No. 18 ranked) and No. 7 Carroll. The Warriors lost to both by single digits and beat Montana State Northern

“I can’t remember the last time we lost two games on a road trip,” she said. “However, my team is incredibly young, but I’m really excited about them. We’re going to be really good.  We lost one of the games by only five points and the other game was a three possession game. We were right there in both games. We just didn’t make the plays down the stretch to pull out wins.”

Moore noted that playing some of the top level NAIA teams in the early in the season “is going to make us better in the long run.

“I’m excited for this year,” she added. “We have a chance to be really good.”

UCSB men’s basketball associate head coach John Rillie is also excited about the season. The Gauchos are off to a 5-1 start.

"A lot of people around town are commenting about our talent and athleticism, but for those who've seen us, it's going to take a little while. But we're very excited about our group,” he said.

The Gauchos figure to get tested in their next two games. They host Sacramento State on Thursday and play at the University of Washington on Sunday.

Sacramento has already beaten two Big West teams, UC Davis and Cal State Fullerton, while Washington figures to contend for the Pac-12 title.

“They're coached by an ex-Syracuse assistant, so it'll have its challenges in many ways,” said Rillie of the Huskies.

The UCSB swim teams are pumped up for the major part of their season. The Gauchos had a successful, albeit abbreviated, fall campaign. Its most recent meet at UCLA was shortened due to poor air quality caused by the Woolsey Fire.

The Gauchos' first major competition is this weekend at the UNLV Invitational.

“It’ll be a great place to check in and see where we are at the beginning of the year,” said coach Matt Macedo.

The men’s team is led by senior Mason Tittle, a sprint freestyler.

“He has a couple of school records and is chasing a few more,” said Macedo.

Here’s what coaches had to say about the athletes they brought to the press luncheon.

Carpinteria Boys Basketball

Corey Adam, Carpinteria's first-year coach, on team captains Ian Reed and Chris Ramirez: “I’m pretty lucky to step into this position having two leaders like those two men.

Santa Barbara Boys Basketball

Coach Dave Bregante on Ryan Murphy and Jackson Hamilton: “These two guys really play hard. They lead by example. I don’t think I’ve had two players who play as hard as they do — they really get after it. It’s a pleasure to coach them.”


Tim Philibosian, regional sports director for Special Olympics of Santa Barbara, recognized Carpinteria’s Brian Medel for being named the Soccer Coach of the Year in the Special Olympics Southern California Region.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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