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Competition Will Be Fierce in Channel League Basketball

You’d think a coach wouldn’t have much to worry about when his team has a record of 13-1.

It’s not that way if you coach girls basketball in the Channel League. Just ask Phil Sherman of Dos Pueblos.

“We’re happy to be 13-1,” Sherman said at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Café. “Most coaches that start the season 13-1 have no worries. Unfortunately, our league is a little different than other leagues. Ventura is No. 1 in their division, Buena is No 1 and Santa Barbara is 16-1. So, 13-1 doesn’t help us glide along in league. It’s been a great ride so far.”

The Chargers, who have been led by Holly Barrera, Lauren Noggle and Camila Casanueva, open league play at home Thursday against defending champion Ventura.

San Marcos: Coach Chris Hantgin said it’s been “really cool” watching his team get rewarded for its efforts. The Royals last week defeated Carpinteria by double digits and avenged a 40-point loss against Channel Islands.

The play of freshmen Taylor Hantgin and Megan Cunnison is a big reason for the team’s improved play.

Taylor Hantgin, the daughter of Chris and Marilyn Hantgin, is the team’s point guard and Cunnison plays in the post. Taylor scored a career-best 17 points in the win over Carpinteria.

 “I’ve watched a few of her games and she’s never scored 17 before,” said coach Hantgin. “It was cool but odd.”

Cunnison had 15 rebounds in the two wins.

“She’s been anchor inside for us,” coach Hantgin said. “Taylor is sort of the quarterback on the outside and Megan solidifies the entire offense and defense.

“The game is starting to come to these girls; they see things,” he added. “For a while, it was deer in the headlights.”

The Royals face a daunting challenge this week, playing Ventura and Santa Barbara.

“They’re probably top 25 in the state, those two programs. It’s going to be a real challenge for us, but I know our girls are going to compete. Thirty-two minutes, unfortunately, is a long time. We’ll see how we do with that,” said Hantgin.

Santa Barbara High: Coach Andrew Butcher lamented about his team’s lack of rebounding.

“We beat Ventura in the TOC final and had only 16 rebounds,” he said.

Butcher introduced Jackie Tran, Sophia Torres and Demi Jimenez.  Torres scored nine points in a win against Corona Centennial at the West Coast Holiday Classic. Jimenez came out for basketball from soccer and impressed Butcher with her ability to shoot the ball.

“She makes every shot,” he said. “I say, ‘What’s going on here?’ She says, ‘I don’t know, coach. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?’

“She’s just a natural athlete and a good basketball player. She’s a terrific addition to the team.”

The Dons face Buena on Tuesday and San Marcos on Thursday in Channel League games and play at Orangewood Academy on Monday.

Bishop Diego: Coach Jeff Burich learned in his team’s win at Valley Christian Academy that it’s better at playing zone defense than man-to-man.

“We went man in the second half and gave up eight points in the first three minutes,” Burich said.  “We went back to zone and held them to nine points the rest of the game. So, I think we’ll stay a zone team and work on our man-to-man when we have some free time in the gym.”

He said K’lei Martinez, a three-year varsity player, is one of the quickest guards on the team and Marissa Quintana has done a great job improving on her game.

The Cardinals open against their two toughest Tri-Valley League opponents: at Santa Clara on Tuesday and home against St. Bonaventure on Thursday.


Santa Barbara: After winning three tournament titles during their pre-league schedule, the Dons begin Channel League play against Buena on Wednesday and host San Marcos on Friday.

“The league is going to be very interesting, to say the least,” coach Dave Bregante said. “San Marcos has got one of the best teams it’s had in last 20 years, since they had Rob Ramaker and those kids. I watched DP play Canyons and they were very impressive.”

The Dons enter league play with a 17-1 record and a 13-game winning streak. They’ve been led by senior Bolden Brace. The Northeastern-bound forward earned MVP honors at the Simi Valley Tournament, Jim Bashore Holiday Cage Classic and Santa Barbara Holiday Classic.

Now comes the challenge of defending their Channel League title.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Bregante said. “It’s going to be exciting, especially for the fans, not so much so for the coaches.”

Dos Pueblos: Assistant coach Kelly Uyesaka acknowledged Round Table president Cara Gamberdella, saying, “Thank you, Miss Gamberdella,” after she introduced him.

“She was my English teacher when I was a junior in high school,” he explained to the audience.

Speaking for coach Joe Zamora, Uyesaka reported that sophomore guard Cyrus Wallace is doing a good job performing at the varsity level and has tremendous upside and potential. He said Diego Riker is an offensive threat and the team’s best on-ball defender.

Providence: Coach Steve Stokes said the competitiveness of Ricky Beebe makes his team better. Even in practice, he doesn’t like to lose, the coach said.

“It doesn’t matter what color he’s wearing, he wins in practice. He’s a winner. He demands a lot from teammates; he's pushed them to new heights.”

The Patriots play Friday at Grace Brethren.

Bishop Diego: Athletic Director Dan Peeters introduced sophomore Dylan Streett and junior Mitchell Cota. Streett, a three-sport athlete, is the team’s leading scorer and “has a competitive spirit you can’t teach,” Peeters said.

On Cota, Peeters said he’s a team leader and an outstanding student, carrying a 4.0 GPA with a class load that includes advanced placement calculus and physics.


Dos Pueblos: Coach Anthony Califano said Diego Lopez and Ryan Fidel competed against some of the best wrestlers in the country at the Doc Buchanan Invitational in Clovis.

Fidel advanced to the quarterfinals in the 120-pound weight class, while the 170-pound Lopez was knocked out in two matches.

“This is the  toughest tournament in the country,” Califano said.

He noted that performance by Fidel has “separated himself from the rest of the pack in the Southern Section. His future is bright. I don’t want to say too much, I don’t want to jinx him.”

The Chargers wrestle at Buena on Thursday, with the Channel League dual meet title on the line.

Santa Barbara: Coach Brian Pearson introduced seniors Jesus Corona Tovar and Miguel Cruz. Cruz won a medal at the recent Bash Tournament and Tovar pinned a Ventura wrestler in 28 seconds in a dual meet against the Cougars.

San Marcos: Assistant coach Jake Jordan cited Mark Carroll and Anthony Hernandez as the leaders in the wrestling room. “I’m looking forward to them qualifying for CIF,” he said.

Hernandez is coming off a seventh-place in the heavyweight class at the Nogales Super Championships.

The Royals are home against Ventura on Thursday. They host a tournament on Jan. 23.


UCSB men: Assistant coach Brandon Veltri said Saturday night’s 65-57 Big West loss at Hawaii came down to a few positions in the last few minutes.

“We had three possessions where we got the ball to the rim and we just couldn’t convert,” he said. “And, unfortunately, at the other end Hawaii was able to finish those winning plays at crunch time.

The Gauchos are back on the road again on Thursday at Cal Poly. “We played Cal Poly three times last season and all three came down to the final minute of the game,” Veltri noted.

UCSB will return home on Saturday to face conference favorite UC Irvine.

Westmont women: Coach Kirsten Moore received applause from the audience when she said her team is ranked No. 1 in the NAIA.

“I told the girls before we played our rival Biola ‘congratulations, now you have to back it up.’ And we did. We won at Biola by 20 and won a nonconference game by 40."

She added: “The exciting thing about our team is we’re seasoned enough and we have so many returners from our final four team of last year that they know the team we have right now is not good enough to win a national championship. We have to continually get better every day if we want to put ourselves in a position in March to make a run.”

Westmont men: After losing at Biola by 20, coach John Moore said, “I’m going to use Kirsten’s pregame speech the next time we play Biola.”

The 12th-ranked Warriors play host to No. 9 Arizona Christian on Thursday.

“We’ll see how we bounce back from that Biola game,” said Moore.

SBCC women: Coach Sandrine Krul is excited about her team’s 10-7 record because it’s come against tough competition. And postseason berths in community college basketball are determined by the RPI power-ranking index.

“For us to have a 10-7 record and be ranked in the top 16 for RPI, we’re excited about the season,” she said.

Krul has 14 freshmen on the squad. First-year player Destinee King was named the Athlete of the Week after a 30-point, 20-rebound performance against Hancock.

“They live our motto, MTXE — mental toughness, extra effort — always,” she said.

The Vaqueros will be playing on a brand-new floor at the Sports Pavilion on Wednesday when they take on Cuesta at 5 p.m.


UCSB: Assistant coach Vinnie Devany said last week’s three-match sweep at the Asics Invitational “provided us with tough competition and a good warm-up for the season-opening weekend on the road.”

The Gauchos open Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play at UC San Diego on Friday and play at UC Irvine on Saturday.


San Marcos: Arija Walsh and Brittany Prentice are two impact players for coach Chuckie Roth’s Royals.

Walsh moved to the area from Ohio and plans to attend the University of Michigan after graduating.

“She’s a breath of fresh air to our team,” Roth said. “She’s made such an impact; she’s very commanding in the water. Her work ethic and dedication are exemplary.”

On Prentice: “She’s a true leader,” he said. “In the water, she’s the one you want on your team. She’s arguably our best player.”

Roth said the junior co-captain suffered a broken jaw during her freshman year and was hit was an infection in her jaw bone at the beginning of this season. She had a peripherally inserted central catheter inserted into her arm to receive IV medication for 3 1/2 weeks.

“She couldn’t get in the water, but in every dry-land thing she was going after it with this big thing sticking out of her arm,” said Roth.

Dos Pueblos: Assistant Sienna Van Alphen said junior transfer Amelia Meckelborg and sophomore Chloe Pena have been key players on the squad. Pena filled in at goalie in the early part of the season.

The Chargers (5-3) play host to Santa Barbara in a Channel League game on Tuesday before participating in the Tournament of Champions on Friday.

“We’re looking forward some fun games and hard competition,” said Van Alphen.


Santa Barbara: Coach Jill Wolf introduced captains Katherine Hawkes and Reyna Paredes. They were instrumental in the Dons beating San Marco 3-1 in the Channel League opener. Hawkes is the goalkeeper and Paredes a defender.

“Our back line played great,” said Wolf.

The Dons are home to Dos Pueblos on Tuesday and Ventura on Thursday.

San Marcos: Assistant coach Silas Fallstich said the Royals are working to clean up their defensive lapses on set pieces after giving up three goals off free kicks in a 3-1 loss against Santa Barbara last week.

Fallstitch recognized defender Danielle Anderson and holding midfielder Raynee Odell for their focus and attitude.

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

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