Westmont, Vaqs in midst of hot streaks

BY BLAKE DORFMAN, PRESIDIOSPORTS.COM

It’s been hoops heaven for Westmont and Santa Barbara City College thus far in 2009.

The Westmont men have won seven straight and are ranked 14th in the country, while the Warrior women have won five straight and are ranked 10th in the nation.

Over at SBCC’s Sports Pavilion, Morris Hodges’ men’s team has won five straight and Sandrine Krul’s Lady Vaqs have taken six of seven.

It’s no wonder that athletes from these programs were honored as Athletes of the Week at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table luncheon.

Westmont’s Dan Rasp is just a sophomore, but he’s been showing that he has the potential to be one of the school’s all-time greats by the time he graduates. The forward had a clutch offensive rebound with 15 seconds remaining, turning it into a basket that sealed the Warriors’ win over Cal Baptist, which was ranked tops in the country at the beginning of the season. He then went on to have a career-high 29 points against The Master’s.

His coach, John Moore, had everyone in the Ranchero Room at Harry’s close their eyes and feel their pulse. He then had them imagine stepping to the free-throw line with the game on the line. Naturally, most everyone’s pulse would quicken in that situation.

“Dan Rasp is the only player I’ve ever coached whose heart rate goes down in that situation,” he said.

The Warriors play on the road against arch-rival Biola on Tuesday.

Kirsten Moore has the women’s team in the NAIA’s top 10 for the first time in school history, and the Warriors are leading the Golden State Athletic Conference in nearly every defensive category. They now have a target on their backs, however, and will also play at Biola on Tuesday. Moore and her players have never defeated the Eagles.

Imelda Bealer was named Athlete of the Week for her thievery. The SBCC freshman had four consecutive steals to start the second half against Hancock, finishing with a career-high 14 points, nine rebounds, five steals and a block. Sports Information Director Dave Loveton also discussed the SBCC men, who have consistently received top-notch performances from the likes of Mark Keeten and David Lane during their winning streak.

Coach John Ward’s Carpinteria boys hoopsters lost their first Tri-Valley League game last week, as did the Westmont teams when they started GSAC play. Westmont hasn’t lost a GSAC game since, and Ward figured if he sat next to Moore and Moore at Harry’s the trend would rub off. If Carp is going to find success in the TVL they’ll need more than just star players Kevin Lusterio and Manny Hernandez. Two of those players were with Ward on Monday — all-county lineman John “Mr. Fundamentals” Bustillos and sophomore budding-star Trevor Madden.

Maynard Pilapil’s Dos Pueblos girls are off to an 0-2 start in the Channel League, but it’s certainly not a surprise considering the young Chargers had to face perennial powerhouses Buena and Ventura on consecutive days. Senior captain Meghan Murphy continues to embrace the nickname and role of “Team Mom,” and even hosted a party for all of her underclassmen teammates to watch freshman Jessica Escalante on national TV on Saturday.

Escalante, 14, defended her national title in the NFL Pepsi Punt, Pass and Kick contest in Carolina over the weekend, winning by just one inch. She was recognized on TV, and gave her team a special wave that she promised to give. The freshman is averaging double-digit scoring and will be a big factor in Tuesday’s game against San Marcos at the Thunderhut.

The Royals also had a winless week against two powerhouse teams, Buena and Rio Mesa. Kristyn Miller’s team was tied with Buena at halftime and was ahead of Rio Mesa after one quarter, and will try to put four quarters together and finish things off against the Chargers.

Jeannette Mendoza scored 35 points over the two games and continues to guide the Royal offense, while Vanessa Curiel has been a defensive fireball. Desiree Porter-Ray has received more playing time than anticipated but is “calm and coachable” and “doesn’t freak out” with the increased responsibility, according to Miller.

Just like the Royals on the hardwood, the Royals in the pool have faced their share of stiff competition. Brian Roth’s water polo team is 6-7 overall and 0-2 in the Channel League, but all of those losses have come against ranked teams.

“We’re having one of the best seasons we’ve had in the four years I’ve been with the team,” said Roth.

Tuesday provides a good opportunity for the team to pick up a league win win Buena pays a visit at 3:15 p.m. Roth brought along a pair of hard-nosed players in Rose Koper and Brittny Hummel.

Roth called Koper “one of the toughest players I’ve ever coached” after she was stung by  bee on the chin during a team huddle and insisted that she jump back in the pool and keep playing.

Hummel has earned the nickname of “The Rock” for refusing to let illness keep her out of practice. She played through bronchitis last week, and played well at that.

The Santa Barbara boys basketball team had to be tough to bounce back from last week’s league-opening loss to Ventura, a wild see-saw affair that the visiting Cougars won in the closing moments on a 4-point play. They even banked in a couple of treys on the fourth quarter, which is considered lucky in hoops.

Coach Chris Hantgin felt that his team played a great game and wondered if they could have played any better.

“When I watched the film I realized that we can be a lot better… I feel that if we keep working hard this team can be something special,” he said. The Dons have some time to improve in practice before Friday’s game against Buena.

DP’s Pilapil pinch-hit for boys coach Joe Zamora, whose team is coming off of two close losses to Buena and Ventura to open Channel League play. Zamora guided the team to a perfect Channel League last year, however, and is banking on players like Evan “Indiana” Hamilton and big Brian “Stellar” Heller to help the team bounce back.

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