Bishop Diego’s journey to the CIF-SS Southern Section Division 3A boys basketball title had its share of ups and downs, coach James Coronado pointed out during the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table’s celebration of the team at Monday’s Press Luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Cafe.
“We tried to make a stacked schedule at the beginning just to get these guys ready for it,” said Coronado. “Sometimes that doesn’t always go the right way as you think it might on paper.”
There were back-to-back losses to Rio Mesa and Cate and a 30-point drubbing against San Marcos during December.
But the Cardinals “stuck with it and just kept doing what we asked them to do over and over again,” Coronado said. “Privately, I’m sure they cussed me out numerous times while we were running the sidelines.”
The team regrouped in January and reeled off 13 straight wins en route to claiming a Southern Section title.
The Cardinals showed great resiliency in the semifinals as they rallied from a 13-point deficit late in the third quarter on the road and beat St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy, 51-46.
“Like I said, they just had the calm and the resiliency, and the dedication and perseverance to come all the way back to win that game,” said Coronado.
He said in a tight title game against Dana Hills, the team “just stuck with it.”
He felt the championship wasn’t Bishop’s best game. “But that just goes to show that they can win games ugly sometimes when they have to.”
Coronado gave a shoutout to his wife and children, who joined him and the team on the run to the title.
“All year long, they were scorekeepers, cheerleaders, videographers. I always had to hear from my daughters about how many fouls Qu’ran (Gossett) had all the time,” he cracked. “Hats off to them. If it wasn’t for their support, I wouldn’t be here.”
WESTMONT WOMEN TO HOST NAIA EARLY ROUNDS
The Westmont women’s basketball team fought back to win the Golden State Athletic Conference regular season title and went down to the wire against host Master’s in the conference tournament final before falling short.
“These girls fight and it’s just worth watching,” said a passionate coach Kirsten Moore about her defending NAIA national championship squad.
The community will have the opportunity to see the Warriors begin their quest at repeating as national champion as they’ll host first two rounds of the 64-team tournament at Murchison Gym, March 11-12.
Moore would love to see the community come out and give the Warriors a home-court advantage.
“It’s going to be tricky for us because it’s Spring Break for Westmont, which is such a bummer because our students won’t be here. So we would really love for the community to get behind this,” she said.
“We are the defending national champions. We won our conference, we’re ranked No. 2 in the country and we’re going to be hosting the round of 64 and the round of 32.”
If the Warriors win both rounds, they would head to Sioux City, Iowa for the Sweet 16 and the final rounds.
Moore said Westmont will be making the rounds to the local youth basketball leagues and the high schools to spread the word about the NAIA Tournament and getting tickets to come support the Warriors.
“Our girls deserve it, they worked so hard for this and we’re really hoping to create a home-court advantage over these next couple of games.”
DOS PUEBLOS SOFTBALL
Coach Mike Gerken introduced multi-sport athletes Riley Monroe and Paulina Avina. The pair also play soccer.
Monroe caught almost every inning last spring, said Gerken. “Part of that is because she’s a great athlete and in great shape. Another part is our pitchers feel very, very comfortable with her behind the plate.”
Gerken said he lets Monroe call the pitches. “She really understands our pitching and really understands the strike zone. She basically has free reign. Sometimes I’ll give her a nod to throw a certain pitch here and there, but most of the time she runs the show.”
Avina is a versatile player. She can play all the outfield positions and third base, “and is our third-string catcher, even though she doesn’t really know that,” cracked Gerken. “A great athlete and a very smart player. So many times, she’s in the right spot at the right time.”
Coach Jeff Walker’s team is 10-3 after sweeping a three-game series against Oxnard to open Western State Conference North Division play.
Andrew Guardino of Dos Pueblos picked up a save in a 1-0 win at Oxnard and DP alum Jake McBride earned the save in an 8-6 victory at Pershing Park on Saturday.
SANTA BARBARA HIGH SWIMMING
Brothers Jaxon and Jared Burford had an impressive start to the swim season for the Dons.
Both water polo players, Jaxon plays goalie and Jared is a field player.
Coach Mark Walsh said Jaxon “is one of the hardest workers I’ve had in our program over the past 25 years.”
Jaxon swam the individual medley at the league finals last year and finished in the top six going against year-round club swimmers.
Walsh said Jared is one of the fastest water polo players. After missing last swim season with an injury, Jared’s times at the Channel League Relays last week were 4-5 seconds faster than what he did the year before.
Jared specializes in the 50 and 100 freestyle events.
“With these two guys leading our program, we’re going to be in good shape,” said Walsh.
SAN MARCOS GIRLS LACROSSE
Defenders Tania Valente and Sydney Vargas represented the 3-0 Royals.
Coach Paul Ramsey said the pair were basically newcomers to the sport when they arrived at San Marcos and have worked up to starting defenders.
“Our defense is initiating our offense right now,” said Ramsey. “The ground balls they come up with, the interceptions they’ve had and the clears out from our goalkeeper have really sparked us in transition. That’s why I wanted to recognize them here today.”
He added that both players are also solid in classroom.
SANTA BARARA HIGH BASEBALL
Coach Steve Schuck called shortstop Dane Dawson and third baseman Cal Wipf leaders in the program.
Dawson carries a 4.0 GPA and Wipf a 4.4.
“They get it done,” said Schuck. “In community service work, they’re always the first to volunteer and they put in the most hours. And, they’re probably two of the best at teaching the freshmen. They spend a lot of time teaching the right way to do it.”
The Dons (1-0 in league) play at Cabrillo on Tuesday and host defending league champion San Marcos in their league home opener on Friday.
“It’s going to be a challenge. Wes (Ghan-Gibson) has done a great job with the program,” said Schuck. “We hope to pack the place.”
SAN MARCOS BASEBALL
Coach Wes Ghan-Gibson introduced second baseman Nathan Lynk and pitcher Cole Schoenwetter, saying, “They both bring something special to the table.”
Lynk also played football and carries a 3.5 GPA.
He scored the first and third runs in the 3-1 win over Dos Pueblos last Friday.
“Every game he’s in there, he’s our clutch guy who starts it off,” said Gibson.
The second baseman is batting .400.
Schoenwetter has a 3.9 GPA. Normally a starter, he closed out the win against Dos Pueblos, allowing no earned runs, no walks and striking out eight in three innings.
The 6-foot-3 righthander has 17 strikeouts and has a 2.00 ERA in 10 innings pitched this season
Gibson said Schoenwetter is the No. 2-ranked pitcher in California for the Class of 2023.
“That’s a credit to his work,” said Gibson.
The coach marveled at the superb pitching in the game against Dos Pueblos.
He said San Marcos starter Chase Hoover’s fastball was clocked at 94 mph, Ryan Speshyock of Dos Pueblos hit 95 mph and Schoenwetter threw 96.
“That was a college baseball game, and it was an electric atmosphere,” said Gibson.
Coach Robert Ruiz said he didn’t have anyone throwing at the speeds of the high school players in the Warriors’ games over the weekend, “but we had a couple 91s and we felt good about that.”
Ruiz recognized the quality of talent in the local baseball community and added that he has a local standout in Bishop Diego alum Gabe Arteaga.
“He was fantastic out of the bullpen for us this week,” said Ruiz.
The Warriors are 18-2 on the season.
Ruiz noted the great season true freshman Brian Pack is having on the mound. He’s 5-0, “and he was not set up to be a starter in January,” the coach said. “That’s been a nice surprise.”
He also lauded outfielder/DH Justin Rodriguez who had a game-winning hit to clinch the weekend series against Master’s.
SBCC WOMEN’S SWIMMING
Elina Borghoff and Emily Lopez are swimming for coach Chuckie Roth after playing on his state runner-up water polo team in the fall.
Lopez, a Righetti High alum, drives every day from Santa Maria to attend SBCC and swim for the Vaqueros.
“Emily does everything right,” said Roth. “She’s a kid that puts in the an extra hour everywhere, to and from practice. She’s a natural leader. I’m lucky to have her. She’s a leader in my program and she’s going to do great things.”
Borghoff arrived in the fall from Germany. She wanted to swim for the Vaqueros, but Roth pointed out that swimming is a spring sport in community college.
She learned how to play water polo and played on the SBCC team.
Roth said she was like the “Rudy” of the team, as all the players got excited when she went in a game.
Borghoff surprised Roth on his birthday last month, telling him that she was staying for the spring semester to swim for his team.
Last week at the Mt. SAC Invitational, she won the 200 breaststroke and was second in the 400 IM.
“She’s going to have a great year,” said Roth. “I’m so excited our paths crossed and we get a little more time together. She does a phenomenal job.”
SAN MARCOS SWIMMING
Freshman Taylor Steelman and senior Holly Woodhouse are two of Roth’s key swimmers for the Royals.
Roth said Steelman brings great energy to the team and is a well-versed swimmer.
“She can swim anything she wants and that versatility at the high school level is super, super useful,” he said. She’s going to make a big impact not only this year but for three more years.”
Woodhouse, who has the new nickname of “Hollywood,” is a three-time CIF qualifier at the Division 1 level. She is one of the program’s all-time fastest swimmers in the individual medley and 100 backstroke.
She’s committed to Hamilton College, a Division 3 program in New York.
“It’s a great fit for her,” said Roth. She’s going to do great things.
“Holly has been a pleasure to coach and I’m so lucky to get another year together after last year’s pandemic year.”
Roth said the San Marcos boys tied for first with Dos Pueblos at the Channel League Relays.
SAN MARCOS SOFTBALL
The Royals are 0-4, but coach Jeff Swann is not concerned. Two losses came against rival Dos Pueblos and the others against Division 1 and 2 teams, Camarillo and Rio Mesa.
“Having lost those four, I’m satisfied with that,” he said. “Bottom line, we’re playing good ball, but our record doesn’t reflect how we’re playing.”
Sophomores Kamila Morales and Caitlyn Early are two impact players for San Marcos.
Morales plays in center field and uses her athleticism to cover a lot of ground, said Swann. She also swings a big bat.
Early, known as “KK” has great leadership and years of experience.
“She has a high intellect of the game and she is one our captains for good reason,” said Swann. “She has this calm atmosphere about her, but super competitive. She leads by example and does everything well.”
BISHOP DIEGO SOFTBALL
Assistant coach Al Cerda said five of the softball team’s players are still playing soccer as the Cardinals are in the CIF Regionals after winning the Southern Section Division 7 title.
“Every time we play a game we’re like, ‘Nobody get hurt because we only have nine,’ he said. “We had eight in our DP game in the last inning.
“Right now, we’re grateful for the championship Bishop has won. We’re going to keep rooting them on… kind of.”
Catcher Jenna Hayes is a four-year player for the softball team.
“She really picks up her team just from her attitude in what she does,” said Cerda.
Tessa Johansen plays first base and shortstop.
“She’s a phenomenal first baseman. She’s got the skills for it; she’s been doing it since she was 6,” said Cerda.
SAN MARCOS BOYS VOLLEYBALL
Coach Roger Kuntz introduced his three senior captains, Colin Earls, Zach Willbanks and Aidan Paizer.
Earls sets, plays opposite and libero.
His leadership and serving helped the Royals rally from a 24-19 deficit and pull out a 30-28 win over a strong Redondo Union team at the Redondo Invitational.
Willbanks plays outside hitter. He led the team in kills in wins over Royal and Valencia and played well at the Redondo Tournament.
Paizer “is the best middle hitter in our area,” said Kuntz. “He’s usually the best middle hitter when we go into any gym. He’s the first middle I’ve had in my career of 32 years that plays all the way around the court.”
The Royals are 5-3. They play at Thousand Oaks on Tuesday, home against Arroyo Grande on Wednesday and open league play Thursday at home against Cabrillo.
SANTA BARBARA GIRLS LACROSSE
Elayne Blessing introduced her team captains Eva Larson and Daisy Foreman.
Larson is the lone senior on the team and a solid all-around player.
Foreman is a junior who pushes her teammates to be better and leads every drill, said Blessing. “Just a total killer on the field.”
Blessing said Santa Barbara will be hosting a tournament at Peabody Stadium on March 12.
SANTA BARBARA BOYS LACROSSE
John Keogh is working hard to change the culture in a program that won just three games last year.
“The culture has to change,” he said. “We started practicing in August. I can’t wait for our first game.
“These guys have bought into the off-season practices, the morning lifts. They hate them, but we go anyway because we want to be mentally tough and physically tough.”
He predicted the Dons will exceed their win total of last season.
The Dons will be led by seniors Dylan Root and Taj Federbush.
Keogh said Root is not afraid to call guys out to bring their best.
The coach is expecting big things from Federbush, a crafty lefty and the team’s leading scorer last year.