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Boys Basketball

No. 1 Santa Barbara Races Past Fullerton in CIF 2A Playoff Opener

Channel League champions improve to 27-1 after 79-35 first-round victory

Bolden Brace of Santa Barbara challenges Fullerton’s 6-9 center Gerritt Beetstra. Brace scored 18 points to lead the Dons.
Bolden Brace of Santa Barbara challenges Fullerton’s 6-9 center Gerritt Beetstra. Brace scored 18 points to lead the Dons. (Diego Topete / Noozhawk photo)

Once Santa Barbara High found its shooting touch, it was curtains for visiting Fullerton in Wednesday night’s first-round game of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2A boys basketball playoffs.

The top-seeded Dons raced out to 23-10 first-quarter lead, scored 12 straight points to start the second quarter and rolled to a 79-35 victory at J.R. Richards Gym.

Northeastern-bound Bolden Brace scored 18 points, had six assists and five rebounds to lead Santa Barbara (27-1). Ben Clay scored 14 points (including 4 of 8 shooting on 3-pointers ) and grabbed 9 rebounds, Nick Busch scored 16 points and had six boards and JM Cage had six rebounds. The Dons hauled in 41 boards as a team.

Ben Hollon scored 14 points to lead Fullerton (7-19).

While Santa Barbara’s offense overwhelmed Fullerton, its defense shut down the Indians’ biggest weapon, 6-9 Gerritt Beetstra. The defense of 6-5 Paul deBruynkops and 6-6 Cage pushed Beetstra away from the basket and often forced him to take shots out of his shooting range. He scored four points.

“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but I thought our defense was really good,” Santa Barbara coach David Bregante said. “In playoffs, as you get further and further along and the pressure keeps building you got to win with defense.  That’s where we are making our biggest improvement right now. We got to keep plugging along and keep trying to get better that way.”

The blowout win allowed Bregante to play several players. Mustapha Said, Austin Lind, Taylor Padilla and Morgan Pierce gave the Dons valuable minutes off the bench.

“We got a couple seniors in tonight that hardly get to play. They’re great kids and they’ve been hanging in there all season long. They’re great teammates. I keep telling them they’re important — everybody on this team is important. Everybody has a role, some parts are bigger than other parts but the machine doesn’t work without the little parts. And we have to have the little parts contributing and they do. I have been blessed to be their coach. I really love them.”

The Dons hit the road to either Grand Terrace in San Bernardino County or Kennedy in La Palma.

This senior-laden Santa Barbara team is used to making long treks in the playoffs, as it's been to the semifinals the last two years.

“That’s the one thing that will help us,” Bregante said. “We have experience.”

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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