UCSB women’s basketball assistant coach Mia Fisher wanted to set the record straight about traveling to Hawaii during the season.
Fisher had just returned from Honolulu, “which is really cool,” she said at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon. “But, what people don’t see is we leave at 5:30 a.m. (from Santa Barbara to LAX) and the team is pretty tired. Everybody is saying, ‘It’s cool, it’s Hawaii. But you really don’t see that much of it, honestly. You go to the hotel, go to the gym.”
The Gauchos needed the gym time after coming off a tough loss at Cal State Northridge. It all worked out in the end as UCSB won 67-52 and improved to 7-4 in the Big West.
“It’s a beautiful place, like Santa Barbara,” Fisher said of Hawaii. “But people some times tend to get in vacation mode. We went out there and handled business. That speaks volumes for our team.”
She said the team celebrated the victory with a meal at Popeye’s Chicken. “You’d think they won the national championship,” she said of eating at the fast-food restaurant that specializes in Cajun-spiced fried chicken “They were pretty pumped up.”
With March Madness around the corner, Fisher acknowledged the importance of playing well this month.
“February basketball is pretty important because you’re getting ready for the playoffs.”
The Gauchos play at UC Riverside on Thursday.
Westmont women: After a home loss in overtime against Vanguard, coach Kirsten Moore said her Warriors “have an uphill battle now” to win the GSAC title. “We have to beat Vanguard at Vanguard, but we also need a little help.”
The Warriors have two remaining home games, Thursday against Menlo and Saturday against William Jessup. The Saturday game, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., will be “Play for Kay” Cancer Awareness Night as well as Senior Night. Jay Carty, who played in the NBA and has battled cancer, will speak at halftime.
Westmont men: Coach John Moore spoke of the importance of having good teammates.
“We have guys who really believe in being great teammates,” he said. “You can’t be in neutral. You are either a guy pushing and helping the bus in the right direction or, if you think you’re in neutral, you’re dragging the bus down.”
Moore said St. John’s transfer Olisa Nwachi is understanding the Westmont culture of making the extra-pass.
“That’s what being a great teammate is about, being an extra-pass person, finding a way to help your teammates become the best they can be,” said Moore.
San Marcos: Coach Rick Lehman said the sport is in its fourth year at the local public high schools and “the level of play in town is getting better and better.”
San Marcos has up to 50 boys and 50 girls playing the sport.
He introduced two key players on his Royals varsity squad, Luca Sautto and Trey Tank. “These guys are going to represent a real high-powers offense,” he said.
The Royals strengthened their schedule with games against teams from the L.A. area and the Conejo Valley.
“We’re going to try to make the regional playoffs,” Lehman said. “We’re setting our bar higher, and we have the personnel to do it.”
Santa Barbara girls: In her report from the podium, coach Kristen Boehm told sophomores Ryan Kopeikin and Kai Bartell they made the varsity team.
“They are stepping up and teaching the new girls what they learned last year,” Boehm said. “They are leaders on and off the field. Their positive energy just spreads. It’s a pleasure to have them on the team.”
The Dons will have full varsity and JV teams this spring. Boehm said many of the players will be taking part in the Santa Barbara Shootout, a huge women’s tournament being played this weekend at UCSB and the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club.
Dos Pueblos: Coach Anthony Califano brought the CIF runner-up plaque his Chargers won at the CIF Duals two weeks ago.
“We had a great year and had a great run,” he said. “It’s only the second time in DP history we made the finals of the CIF Dual Championships.”
The Chargers won three matches before losing a close battle with top-ranked Righetti in the final at Sovine Gym. The competition was done in one day.
The success carried over to the Channel League Individual Championships, where DP placed wrestlers in 13 of the 14 weight-class finals, won seven titles and qualified 14 for the CIF Individuals at Brea-Olinda this weekend.
Califano introduced Aidan Yamasaki, who won his second straight league title and Ryan Fidel, a three-time champion.
“If there was a stronger word than tenacious, I would use it,” Califano said of Yamasaki’s wrestling. The junior is 21-7. “He’s going to be a top seed this weekend.”
The coach said Fidel likes to rack up lots of points in his matches. “He sort of makes it look easy. That’s the kind of wrestling talent that gets you to the State Tournament.”
Fidel was named league MVP for the second straight year and will take a 30-5 record into the CIF Individuals.
Califano thanked the fathers of the two wrestlers, Mike Yamasaki and Marc Fidel, for their work as assistant coaches.
Santa Barbara: First-year coach Adrian Macias said the Dons program has gone from eight wrestlers when he was doing his student teaching there to more than 25 this season.
The next step in growing the program is starting a wrestling club to serve as a feeder program.
He brought two of his CIF qualifiers, 225-pound league champion Jose Herrera and 138-pound runner-up Jon Huther.
“We lose only one senior this year,” Macias said. “We’re looking forward to competing with Dos Pueblos in the upcoming years, that way we can have some good crosstown rivals.”
Santa Barbara: Coach Andrew Butcher said the Dons will play at Oaks Christian in the CIF 1AA playoffs on Thursday. Oaks Christian has a Division 1 center in Sydney Boyer.
The coach introduced Ceci Ortiz, Minerva Carrillo and Alondra Jimenez, calling them “the players that make the team go, the players that keep the team from destroying itself. They are the players that are a joy to coach.”
He said Jimenez, the team’s point guard who returned for the last two regular season games after tearing an ACL in the summer, is “a super talent. She runs the show; she sees stuff high school players don’t see. It’s a great pleasure to have her back on the team.”
Bishop Diego: Coach Jeff Burich said freshman Ariana Morones has stepped up to become a key player on the varsity.
“She’s a tremendous defensive player. It’s fun to see someone change the game defensively.”
Natalie Whiting has also made a big impact on the Cardinals, who finished second in the Frontier League at 11-3 after going 0-10 last year in the Tri-Valley League. “Natalie has probably taken the biggest step than anybody I’ve ever had,” Burich said. She averages 10 points a game and is an emotional leader on the team.
The Cardinals play Pilibos in a first-round playoff game on Saturday.
Santa Barbara: The No. 3-seeded Dons open the CIF Division 1 playoffs on Friday against Century High at San Marcos at 5 p.m.
Brandon Sanchez, who last week was named the Athlete of the Week, is one of top offensive players on the team, with nine goals and 11 assists.
Carpinteria: The Warriors made the playoffs and will travel to Arroyo on Wednesday for a wild-card game.
The combination of Jovanny Avila and Alex Ramierz provided a spark in the last three games and helped Carpinteria make the playoffs.
Carpinteria: The Warriors won the Frontier League title, and assistant coach Lucy Carleton was proud to say she was right in predicting the Warriors would do it.
The team rallied from a 1-0 deficit and beat Fillmore 2-1 to win the title outright in the regular-season finale.
“A few weeks back at Round Table I said they were going to win league,” Carleton said. “Head coach Charles Bryant was mortified, the players were mortified: ‘You cursed us,’ they said. "No. I know the way this team plays together, the skill that they have, the determination they have — and they made it right.
“This is the first time I could say I was right.”
Carleton introduced two up-and-coming players on the squad, Josie Gordon and Kendra Meza.
The Warriors are home for a CIF first-round game against either St. Bonaventure or Pilibos of L.A. on Thursday.
Santa Barbara: Assistant coach Kaci Mexico expressed her excitement on how the Dons finished the season strong. The team fell to 1-3 in Channel League after a 4-0 loss to Dos Pueblos and then dedicated itself to turn things around.
In the second round of play, Santa Barbara beat DP 2-1 and tied league champion San Marcos 1-1.
“It was rad,” Mexico said of the turnaround. “I was pumped as a coach. As a player, I loved being the underdog, but as a coach it was even more epic just to see the girls not give up and play it cool.”