Basketball faces mark a new hoops season

Turkey Day approaches, and college hoops fans are thankful for the fact that basketball season is in full gear.

“We’re off to our usual slow start,” said UCSB men’s assistant coach Dave Campbell at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table luncheon.

It hasn’t been too slow, however, as the defending Big West champion Gauchos are 2-2 and have already received a brilliant performance from star junior Orlando Johnson. In a home win against Fresno State on Saturday, Johnson scored 35 points with 11 rebounds and is currently third in the nation with a scoring average of 26.3 points per game.

“We know Orlando’s not going to be able to go out and get 35 every night, because I’m sure a lot of teams are gonna start keying on him, so we just need to work well as a group and try to get to where we need to be,” said Campbell.

The UCSB women’s team has yet to pick up its first win, carrying an 0-4 record that includes losses in overtime and double overtime in their last two games.

“They were exciting games. We’re proud of our troops, and we’d go to war with them any day of the week,” said assistant coach Jaida Williams.

The Westmont women lost most of their team to graduation last year, but the Warriors are still off to a 5-2 start. Those two losses come against Division I NCAA squads Pepperdine and Oregon, both on the road. The Warriors have had different leading scorers in every game, and despite the loss against her Alma Mater (Oregon), Moore was thoroughly impressed with her team’s performance in hanging tough against the Ducks.

“What my girls did on that afternoon up in Mack Court in Oregon showed me that this team can be pretty special,” said Moore.

Westmont’s other Coach Moore, men’s coach John, reported that sophomore Preston Branson has been phenomenal so far this season, averaging 22 points per contest. The team will be serving up a meal at the Salvation Army on Thanksgiving before heading to Atherton for a tournament.

SBCC sports information specialist Dave Loveton reported that the Vaquero women made the finals of their own MTXE Tournament over the weekend, while the men are being led by Richard Somdah’s 19.8 ppg.

POLO POWER: All three local Channel League girls water polo teams were represented at Harry’s, and all three feature players who have earned Division I college scholarships for their hard work and dedication. San Marcos coach Brian Roth’s team is fresh off of its best-ever Channel League finish (third place), and recently found out that Brittny Hummel is going to Sonoma State. She is the third player out of the Royals’ program to earn a scholarship.

Coach Mark Walsh’s Santa Barbara High team has featured numerous college standouts and even a pair of Olympians, but they’ve been very young the past couple of years. One of the Dons that the longtime coach introduced is Makenzy Fowler, who will play for the Arizona State Sun Devils on scholarship next year.

“She’s done it all by hard work… I’ve never had a kid come further from freshman to senior year,” he said.

And then there’s Dos Pueblos, the three-time defending CIF champions who have lost just six matches in the last three years, including a 31-0 mark last year. Charger boys coach Chris Parrish is taking over the girls team for the first time this year, and brought along two seniors who have been cornerstones of the program in its recent success — Berkeley-bound Tiera Schroeder and future Stanford player Kiley Neushul.

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