Dos Pueblos wrapped up the Channel League championship Tuesday night with a hard-fought 48-45 victory over Santa Barbara at Sovine Gym.
Behind 20 points from Ryan Beall and 14 from Sean Park, the Chargers improved to 7-0 in league play, 18-7 overall, and have a three-game lead over second-place San Marcos and Ventura, with just one regular season game remaining. Santa Barbara drops to 3-5 and 12-16. The Dons ended the regular season in fourth place, but they will apply for a wildcard playoff spot.
Santa Barbara came out fired up Tuesday, showing far more fire than in the Dons’ lackluster loss to San Marcos ont Friday. Santa Barbara rode 10 early points from Marques Morton, who scored a team-high 15, and built a 12-4 lead. But a scoring flurry by Beall brought the Chargers back, and they took their first lead at 15-14. The Dons’ Roberto Nelson, shut out to that point, scored seven of his 12 points in a row as the Dons grabbed a 22-15 lead. Then Park got going offensively in the second quarter, Ben Johnson chipped in a hoop along with some superb defense and rebounding, and Evan Muñoz swished a three, and the Chargers took a 28-26 lead into the locker room for halftime.
In a tense, defensive third quarter, Beall held Nelson scoreless, while Nelson proved he could play defense as well, holding Park to a single basket. The third proved nothing, and the teams moved to the fourth quarter with the Chargers clinging to a 38-36 lead. The defenses continued to dominate, as three more minutes went by with no scoring, but the Dons finally broke the drought, and after Jimmy Sexton’s hoop in the lane, they held a 42-39 edge.
On the next possession, Morton almost stole a pass intended for Beall, but Beall retrieved the ball in the back court, and free of Morton, drilled a three-pointer to tie the score with three and a half minutes to play. On the next possession, Beall, who is among the league leaders in virtually every category except three-point shooting, made his fourth three of the game to give the Chargers a 45-42 lead.
Meanwhile, the Chargers defense held the Dons without a field goal for the last four minutes. The Dons were forced to foul, and a free throw by Beall and two more from Park pushed the lead to six. Nelson converted all three free throws after a foul by Park with seven seconds to play, and after a Charger miss, the Dons had one final desperation attempt to tie with five seconds to go.
Quarterback John Uribe was inserted to throw the length of the court pass, but Beall proved the Chargers football team could have used him, denying Nelson the catch. Uribe went to his secondary receiver, and at the buzzer, Ben Weisman had a hurried attempt at a three but it went awry under heavy duress from Park.
Dos Pueblos students roared their approval as the Chargers completed a three-game sweep of Santa Barbara. The series win, when coupled with DP’s sweep of San Marcos, gives the Chargers the undisputed city championship along with the Channel League title.
Will Beall is a Dos Pueblos parent.