Adversity and the ability to deal with it was the theme of the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table’s press luncheon on Monday at Harry’s Plaza Cafe.
Westmont College rolled with the punches all year and went all the way to the NAIA Championship last Saturday where it fell to Marian, Ind., in Sioux City, Iowa. The warriors went 31-8 under first-year head coach Ruth McGolpin.
“We went in the NAIA Tournament as an unranked team,” said McGolpin. “I knew we could win our pool even though we had the No. 8 and 9 teams in there. The road to get there wasn’t so easy. We were at school waiting for the Santa Barbara Airbus at 2:30 in the morning and they went to LAX to pick us up. We handled that setback, then we were delayed by weather in Chicago and no rental cars were available in Sioux City but we still found a way around that.
“We won our pool and then we kept winning and winning in the NAIA playoffs. It was kind of a strange road and we never expected to be the No. 2 team in the nation. But that’s where we are, No. 2 out of 253 NAIA teams.”
UCSB Men’s Basketball
The Gauchos are 6-3 with five straight wins.
“A lot of coaches talk about adversity and we’ve definitely had some,” said assistant coach Ben Tucker. “We started 1-3 and we had three starters miss at least one game in our first seven. We won two road games last week, at Cal St. Bakersfield and we beat Texas-Arlington, who was the preseason pick to win the Sun Belt Conference and projected to be in the NCAA Tournament.
“Both games came down to the final 15 seconds and our team was able to execute, getting the stops we needed and making key free throws. We’ve learned a lot about overcoming adversity.”
Westmont Men’s Basketball
Coach John Moore is happy that his team is off to its best start (10-0) since the 1983-84 squad started 18-0.
“We’re having a really nice season and one of the reasons is Justin Bessard (this week’s SBART Athlete of the Week) has come in and become a leader right away. He’s our only post player and he’s learned how to be a substantially better post player than I ever imagined him to be.
“It’s finals week for us and we have two big games vs. Vanguard on Saturday.”
The Warrior men are ranked No. 22 in the NAIA and will host Vanguard on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The women’s game will pit two top-5 teams in No. 4 Vanguard and No. 5 Westmont (7-2) at 5:30 p.m.
UCSB Women’s Volleyball
Assistant coach Matt Jones noted that the Gauchos made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013 and got their first at-large bid since 2009. They beat Texas State 3-1 in the first round, holding their best player to a .000 hitting percentage.
One night later, they took a 2-1 lead over No. 2 Texas before a packed house in Austin, Texas.
“We were proud to make the tournament and to be up 2-1 with 6,000 fans yelling down our throats, it was pretty special,” said Jones. “We had the place really quiet for a while but they have three girls in the front row bigger than me and eventually, they figured it out. We lost in five sets and that was the best match we played all year against a very talented team.”
Santa Barbara Girls Soccer
Silas Fallstich brought two of his junior defenders — right back Lizzie Goss and center back Brianna Lopez.
“Lizzie had a great quote after our 1-0 win over Templeton,” recalled Fallstich. “She said, ‘Last year, we left things a little unfinished and had a sour taste in our mouths. That’s really motivated us this year.’ That speaks volumes for this year’s team, we’re very, very motivated.”
On Lopez: “It just blows my mind the number of 1v1 duels this girl wins,” said Fallstich. “She’s so good and so smart and strong in those situations. She keeps everything simple and makes really good reads.”
Fallstich said the Dons (2-2-2) got five starters back last week when they went 2-0-1. They’ve only allowed three goals all season.
Santa Barbara Boys Basketball
Coach Corey Adam on point guard Stephen Davis: “It’s like having a coach on the court. He’s one of the most intelligent players I’ve coached in 15-plus years. You talk about players listening, he hears everything I say and almost always does what I’m trying to get them to do.”
On 6-foot-8 Bryce Warrecker: “He’s a great student, both he and Stephen are over 4.0 GPAs. Bryce has a great work ethic and he’s constantly encouraging his teammates.”
“We’re focusing on consistency for our team, we haven’t put a full game together yet,” said Adams. “We’re trying to put these guys through adversity because it will help us later in the year. We’ve shown flashes of being really good defensively.”
San Marcos Boys Basketball
Three Royal seniors came to the luncheon in Tony Njia, Max Kadlec and Tommy Condon.
“They’re all returners from last year and they’re doing a great job of getting us going,” said Royals coach Jelani Hicks. “Tony had a good weekend at Simi Valley where we took fourth place. He earned all-tournament honors.”
The Royals are 2-5 against a strong schedule that has included Oxnard and Mater Dei.
“Tommy was our leading scorer last year and he’s out with an injury right now,” said Hicks. “If you’re going to be injured, it’s better to do it early in the year.”
Dos Pueblos Boys Basketball
Coach Joe Zamora’s team is 1-4 and still trying to figure things out.
“We’re young and inexperienced,” said Zamora. “I have six seniors on the team and I brought the two who have the most experience in Baylor Huyck and Alex Matheney. This is Baylor’s second year on varsity and he’s our most athletic player. With his length, he can play multiple positions on defense. He’s a good perimeter shooter and has the ability to play above the rim. He’s also a good role model for our younger players.
“Alex is in his fourth year with the program and he’s learning how to lead. He’s filling some pretty big shoes from last year’s point guard. He’s also a good role model because he holds a 4.5 GPA.”
The Chargers play three home games this week, including a Saturday date against Pakarunga High from New Zealand at 5:30 p.m.
Laguna Blanca Boys Basketball
Junior Devin Hernandez tossed in 32 and 35 points for the Owls (1-2) last week.
“We’re playing five games in eight days this week, so we’ll find out how things are going to go,” said assistant coach Sal Rodriguez, who brought Hernandez and Christian Branch. “Christian is the glue to our team and if he’s not on the court, we’re in a lot of trouble. He got four fouls right away on Friday and it turned the whole game around.He’s been with me for four years and he’s an excellent student who’s on his way to Arizona State next year.
“Devin is the tall guy. He keeps growing, he was 6-foot a couple years ago and now he’s 6-3. He’s our leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker. I’ve been coaching for a lot of years and he reminds me of a guy I coached in the 1970s — Jon Korfas. Devin can shoot the lights out and I look forward to watching him this year and next year.”
The Rams host Orcutt Academy on Tuesday night.
Bishop Diego Boys Basketball
Coach James Coronado brought junior Connor Streett, sophomore Kai Morphy and junior Matthew Cunningham.
“They’re all returning starters from last year,” said Coronado. “We’re young again this year with two juniors and one sophomore. We’re trying to build a program with excellence and it doesn’t always show with wins and losses. We’re definitely heading in the right direction.”
Dos Pueblos Wrestling
This is Kenny Breaux’s first year as head coach, replacing Anthony Califano who coached the Chargers for 22 years.
“There’s a lot of similarities between Anthony and I,” said Breaux. “We were both CIF champions and we both went to Div. 2 schools. And our visions are similar for the program.”
Breaux brought Sean Yamasaki and Abraham Perdomo. Yamasaki upset the No. 1 seed and last year’s fourth-place state finisher to win the 132-pound class at the Newbury Park Tournament. Perdomo was third at 145 pounds.
“I’m learning a lot working with these kids as the head coach,” said Breaux. “Having these two guys as leaders is very helpful. I tell the kids win, lose or draw, we want to become better people.”
The Chargers will host Cabrillo on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Santa Barbara Wrestling
Adrian Macias only had 12 wrestlers when he took over the program in 2016. Now the Dons have 38 wrestlers.
He brought Oscar Munoz and Brandon Lazcano, the first two athletes from SBHS wrestling to make the Tri-County All-Star team. “They’re making history,” said Macias. “It’s hard to build a program but with the help of these two leaders, it’s been nothing but a pleasure.”
The Dons beat Lompoc 55-15 last week after winning by just three points a year ago.
Lozcano placed third at the Newbury Park Tournament.
San Marcos Boys Soccer
Assistant coach Blake Joyner brought the three captains — Julio Montes, Levi Sheffey and Matt Hyslop.
The Royals (4-1) played in the Cats and Hounds Tournament at Paso Robles and got to the final before falling to Santa Barbara, 3-1.
“We’re off to a good start but we also just caught the injury bug,” said Joyner. “We’re 4-1 with a lot of important guys out. We still have some work to do in the mental toughness part of the game. We have to grow in that area. The Channel League will be pretty competitive so you need to be ‘on’ every game to win.”
Carpinteria Boys Soccer
After winning the CIF Div. 6 title last year, the Warriors (0-5-0) are searching for their first win.
Assistant coach Brian Warner brought co-captains Enrique Gutierrez and Christian Flores.
“Enrique is an outside back and the hardest worker on our field,” said Warner. “He’s touched every blade of grass and most of the mud too. Christian is a striker who plays everywhere. We’re going to get out of this tunnel and we keep telling the guys, ‘Their greatest glory is always standing up every time you fall.’ “
San Marcos Girls Soccer
Assistant coach Sofia Smati, a former player at Westmont, brought Paige Ingram.
“Paige is a junior and one of the most complete athletes on our team,” said Smati. “She’s physical, technical, she has good vision and she’s very composed. She’s a good leader on and off the field. We have a young team with only six seniors.”
Carpinteria Boys Basketball & Girls Soccer
Assistant soccer coach Lucy Carlton reported that boys basketball is off to a good start (2-1), losing by a point to Channel Islands and beating rival Bishop Diego on a tip-in at the end by Jose Suarez.
She introduced Suarez and Ian Reed, who’s been accepted at Biola.
Girls soccer is hoping to get back to the playoffs. Zahea Hamadi trained hard for this season, then tore her ACL in training and hopes to return at some point. Aly Springer, a four-year varsity player and senior captain, was also introduced.
“Aly has been really unflappable this year,” said Carlton. “She anchors the defense and she’s our leading scorer who’s scored in three of our five games. The combination of these two girls will be something to see.”