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Boys Basketball

Santa Barbara’s Running Game Too Much for Dos Pueblos

Bolden Brace leads up-tempo attack for CIF top-ranked Dons in 63-36 romp

Santa Barbara’s Ben Clay waits for the ball to drop into his hand after Marcellous Gossett and Cyrus Wallace of Dos Pueblos fail to come up with a rebound. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara’s Ben Clay waits for the ball to drop into his hand after Marcellous Gossett and Cyrus Wallace of Dos Pueblos fail to come up with a rebound. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara High’s boys basketball team forced turnovers and ran, grabbed rebounds and ran.

And the Dons never let up, running away to a 63-36 Channel League victory at Dos Pueblos before a capacity crowd at Sovine Gym.

The top-ranked team in CIF-SS Division 2A showed no signs of a let down after its league title-clinching win at San Marcos on Wednesday. Led by Northeastern-bound Bolden Brace, the Dons (25-1 and 7-0 in league) overwhelmed Dos Pueblos with their up-tempo game.

There’s a reason they’re 25-1,” DP coach Joe Zamora said. “They’re big, they’re athletic, they can score. They get a lot of defensive rebounds and kick out for layups. It’s hard to get in there when you don’t have size and get rebounds. We can’t simulate that in our practice.”

If they weren’t stealing or blocking the ball and going in for layups or dunks, the Dons were grabbing defensive rebounds, firing quick outlet passes to Brace at midcourt and moving the ball around. The fast-paced attack made it difficult for DP to settle in on defense.

“Every game our game plan is to run,” said Dons coach Dave Bregante. “We want to get the ball up and down the court and move the ball, pass the ball and get easy baskets.  Bo didn’t shoot the ball particularly well from the perimeter and we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well.”

Oh, but those nine assists from Brace.

“He was awesome. He really distributed the ball. It’s like Ben Clay, he didn’t score a lot of points but he was awesome on the boards,” said Bregante.

Brace had a breakaway dunk early in the second quarter that started Santa Barbara on a 12-2 run to give it 32-21 lead. He contributed on nine points in the run, scoring seven and dishing off to JM Cage for a reverse layup. During the outburst, he drove in for a basket and drew contact but didn’t get a call for an “And-1” opportunity. Miffed by the non-call, the next time down he buried a 3-pointer from the corner.

Brace finished with an impressive stat line of 19 points, 9 assists, 5 steals and 5 rebounds.

“We started the game kind of cold, but once we got going we started playing like we have been,” he said. “We started making a lot of shots. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

Nick Busch was second in scoring for Santa Barbara with 13 points. Ben Clay had 7 points and Cage came off the bench for 6.

Dylan Shugart led Dos Pueblos (15-11, 1-5) with 11 points, while Cyrus Wallace and Mounir Mani had 6 points apiece.

Clay had an off night shooting the ball, but he cleaned up on the boards with 13 rebounds and had three steals.

Santa Barbara’s length and athleticism at the defensive end made it tough for the Chargers to hold on to the ball and get good shots. The team had 13 steals on the night.

“When our guys go up, our shots are altered,” Zamora noted. “Some possessions it was one shot and done, or our shot was in our head: ‘They’re going to block the shot.’ And we didn’t even hit the rim.”

The Dons’ high-octane attack generated lots of good passing combinations. There was a sequence when Brown drove the lane and made a slick pass to Brace for a basket to end the third quarter. Then, at the start of the fourth, Brace kicked the ball out to Brown for a 3-pointer and a 47-29 lead.

“That was fun,” said Brace.

He noted the up-tempo style is what Bregante wants to see from the team.

“Coach has always been the kind of coach that wants us to run. We run a lot in practice and I really think that correlates well to the game,” Brace said. “When we get running like that, everyone starts getting in the flow and it’s really helpful for our team.”

Bregante said the pace was predicated on DP’s full-court pressure.

“When teams pick you up full court, they’re more susceptible to an up-and-down game,” he explained. “They were gambling on trying to pick us up full and play 94 feet worth of defense. It’s pretty hard to play 94 feet of defense against us because we push the ball really well.

“Ben Clay would get the rebounds and push the ball past. He really did a good job of that. Nick did a good job being more physical and JM Cage had a really good game. I thought we played really well.”

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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