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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 12:23 pm | Fog/Mist 54º

Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank

Athletic Round Table Luncheon: Young Westmont Hoopsters Come of Age to Win 4th Straight GSAC Title

Kirsten Moore Click to view larger
Kirsten Moore guided a largely freshman squad to a record fourth straight GSAC Tournament title. (Dave Loveton / Noozhawk photo)

With six freshmen and two sophomores on the roster, Kirsten Moore didn’t know how good her Westmont women’s basketball team could be this season.

“We had so many question marks at the beginning of the year,” said Moore at the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table’s press luncheon on Monday at Harry’s Plaza Café. “A majority of our players were freshmen and we only returned three players from last year’s team (which finished second in the NAIA). I’m so proud of them because they’ve continued to be sponges and to learn and to grow and develop the characteristics that we hold really strong in our program. Things like team unity and work ethic.”

The 10th-ranked Warriors played like veterans last weekend in the GSAC Tournament, rallying from an 8-point deficit to win the semifinal game against Arizona Christian and then knocking off No. 5 The Master’s in the title game, 60-50, at Menlo College.

Westmont became the first school to win four straight GSAC Tourney championships.

“We won in pretty dramatic fashion,” recalled Moore. We beat a mostly senior team from Arizona Christian with one of the leading scorers in the country. We were down 8 with 3½ minutes left and we came back with Lauren Tsuneishi hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to spark a 14-0 run.

“In the championship game, we had to play a girl who’s 6-foot-6 with a wing span of about 7 feet. She leads the nation in blocked shots. We outplayed them and led by 10 from the second quarter on. I’m so proud of my team.”

Moore has had great success at Westmont, winning 20 or more games in 11 of her 14 seasons. Her career record is 328-118 for a winning percentage of .735.

The Warriors will play in the 32-team NAIA National Tournament on March 13-19 in chilly Billings, Montana.

“The true temperature in Billings is negative 18 right now but with the wind chill, it feels like it’s in the negative 40s,” said Moore. “There is supposed to be a warming trend and maybe we’ll get into the teens. I’m glad we’re tough but I don’t know if we’re that kind of tough, coming from Santa Barbara.

“We’ve always played our best basketball in March and we’re doing it again this year.”

Westmont Men’s Basketball

Coach John Moore on Matt Ramon: He’s 6-foot-2 and he had 18 rebounds in a game last week. I feel a little like Dean Smith, he’s the only one who could hold Michael Jordan down. Then he gets to the NBA and his average explodes.

“Matt Ramon was the leading rebounder and leading scorer in Oxnard High history. And I’ve held him to under 10 points for his senior year. He’s had a great year, guarding everyone from the point guard to the 5-man and he’ll continue to do that in the GSAC Tournament.

“We open with Arizona Christian and hopefully we’ll win that, then play The Master’s, a top-10 team in the nation, and move on to play Vanguard in the championship game.”

Westmont Baseball

Coach Robert Ruiz reported that his Warriors are off to a good start with a 15-2 record. They swept Ottawa University of Arizona in doubleheaders on Friday and Sunday.

“An interesting story this year is Luke Coffey, our third baseman from Dos Pueblos who’s been a four-year starter, and our center fielder Bryce Morrison graduated in the same year from Santa Barbara High,” said Ruiz. “Those two guys are, depending on the day, our 3-4 hitters or our 4-5 hitters.

“They’ve been unbelievable contributors, great leaders and exceptional people. Two local kids who have driven our program to compete at a very high level.”

SBCC Baseball

The Vaqueros are 7-4 on the year and have been hot in the last five games. They’ve gone 4-1 and score 54 runs (10.8 avg.) on 67 hits.

They’re already had 10 games postponed or cancelled by rain, including two by snow.

Ian Churchill, a sophomore lefty who’s heading to Arizona, is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA. The pitching staff is No. 2 in the state with a 2.14 ERA.

Tommy Holguin (Santa Barbara High) is starting at second base and Mason Metcalfe (San Marcos) is starting at third.

UCSB Women’s Water Polo

Coach Serela Kay on sophomore goalkeeper Becca Buck: “She’s not only hard-working and has the mind-set of a champion, she holds one of the most challenging positions on the team. She doesn’t start but at any moment’s notice, she has to be ready to go in there. As a freshman last year, she split time with our starter. This year, she’s done a great job of raising the bar. She holds our other goalkeeper accountable. If it wasn’t for players like her, we wouldn’t be where we’re at.”

The Gauchos are 15-5 and the five losses have been to three teams – UCLA, Arizona State and UC Irvine. UCSB opens conference on Saturday with a home game vs. UC Irvine at noon.

San Marcos Baseball

The Royals (5-4, 2-2 Channel League) have 12 seniors and they went 3-0 last week.

Coach Jacob Pepper on Athlete of the Week Brent Hyman: “Not only did he do a great job vs. Dos Pueblos, we brought him in for an inning against Lompoc and he got an AB and got on base by getting plunked. He makes some miraculous plays on defense. There was a great bunt down the third-base line and we’ve all seen no-look passes in basketball but he made a no-look throw to first base and got the runner. Pitching isn’t just throwing the ball in the strike zone, it’s also about fielding the position.”

On second baseman Diego Sandoval: “He had an outstanding week, going 6-11 with two doubles and a home run. More important than his hitting is his play as a leader and a captain and on defense. With runners on first and second and one out, he made a sliding play in the 3-4 hole and got the guy at first base.”

The Royals will host Santa Barbara on Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Santa Barbara Baseball

First-year coach Steve Schuck has been an assistant with the Santa Barbara Foresters for the last five summers and he was making his Round Table debut.

“Our greatest obstacle has been offensive philosophy and letting these guys just play free,” said Schuck. “They’re starting to buy in and it’s been pretty fun to see.”

He brought senior outfielders Joe Pereyra and Oliver Vallejo.

“There’s no one important person on this team, it’s all 20 guys,” Schuck said. “No matter if you’re a starter or not, you’re just as important. These two guys aren’t starters right now but they epitomize what a Dons’ athlete is. They have great character. Oliver has a 4.6 GPA, Joe is a 3.7.

“Oliver was the first person I bonded with when I came here. He made me feel welcome and I thank him for that. They’re looking to go to college. They’re silent leaders who come early, stay late, and get the job done. Their character is off the charts.”

Bishop Diego Baseball

Coach Mike Cano brought two players – pitcher Gabe Arteaga and team captain Hamilton Finefrock.

“They’re part of the reason why we’re 3-0,” said Cano. “They show great leadership. We only have one field and our teams practice together. Their interest in our younger players is really noticed on the field.”

Santa Barbara Softball

Coach Brynne Buchanan brought her two captains, Estefana Perez and Pilar Renteria.

“Estefana’s our pitcher and this is her first year as a starting pitcher,” said Buchanan. “Pilar is our starting shortstop. As seniors, they’ve really taken a leadership role. We’re 0-4 this year but what our record doesn’t show is our growth from the fall season to spring. Our goal this year is to be competitive and fine-tune our playing skills.”

Carpinteria Softball

Coach Dakota Wilcox brought sisters Victoria and Eliana Gonzalez, the starting pitcher and catcher.

Wilcox on Eliana: “She is my senior catcher and I’ve had the honor of coaching her for four years. She’s a huge asset to our team, helping to teach our JV players. I’m excited but also kind of sad that she’s graduating this year.”

Wilcox on Victoria: “She’s a junior pitcher. On a funny note, she’s one of the toughest pitchers I’ve coached. We were playing Foothill Tech and she got a line drive off her left knee. As a coach, I was immediately concerned, so I rush out there and she says, ‘I’m fine. I’m fine.’ I would have been down for the count but she’s a trooper.”

Bishop Diego Softball

Coach Melinda Matsumoto said her team is rebuilding with 10 of the 13 players having no softball experience. She brought her three experienced players to the luncheon.

Matsumoto on Yvette Rosales: “She’s one of my freshmen and she hit over .650 last week with two doubles and six RBIs.”

On Julia Gregson: “She’s starting pitcher and a junior. She’s really a shortstop but by default, she and Miranda are our pitchers because they’re some of our most athletic players and they’ve done it before. Two weeks ago, we played Coastal Christian and she had 14 strikeouts (out of 15 outs) in five innings.”

On Miranda Alvarez: She’s is my lone senior and a four-year player. All of these kids are multi-sport athletes. Miranda pitches and catches, so she is the battery. Last week, she had two put-outs at the plate and she had six RBIs and accounted for five runs.”  

UCSB Track & Field

Senior Hope Bender is heading to Alabama this week to compete in the pentathlon at the NCAA Championships.

“The pentathlon is the hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and ends with the 800,” said coach Gray Horn. “Hope is ranked No. 4 in the country and we hope she can make a charge to the top because the point totals are very close.”

For the first time in 15 years, the Gauchos will have a full schedule of outdoor meets on their new Pauley Track.

“We’re bringing in new bleachers that seat about a 1,000 people,” said Horn. “We have a roster of about 120 athletes, so mom and dad and grandma and grandpa need somewhere to sit. We’ll have five home meets and we’re hosting the Big West Championships [on May 3-4 and 10-11].”

San Marcos Track & Field

This is the 21st season for head coach Marilyn Hantgin.
Hangtin on Chris Eddy: “He’s a senior returner and a sprinter. You might not think he’s fast by looking at him but he’s pretty darn fast. He’s done a great job in the 4x100 relay and he’s one of the leaders of our sprint group.”
On Nate Wong: “He’s one of our best quarter-milers, 300 hurdler, relay runner … he can do a lot of things and he’ll be really important when it comes down to league finals. He also ran cross country and he’s super strong.”
On Mauricio Lopez: “He has great character, I really trust him and the kids all look up to him. He’s a real gem. He’s been on the team for four years. He’ll do some great things when he goes off to college and all three of them will. He’s part of our sprint relay group.”

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