UCSB’s Mitchell likes what she sees in her team

UCSB women’s basketball coach Carlene Mitchell made this announcement about her 2013-14 team at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon:

“I like them, No. 1.”

The Gaucho coach said the squad possesses her personality, meaning it plays with heart and tenacity.

“From tip to the final buzzer, they’re playing their behinds off,” she said.

Mitchell noted she changed the team’s style of play. “I’m OK with that. I’m still young enough and smart enough to know that we can’t grind it like we did in the past. Now, we’re small, we’re quick and we’re getting after it. I think our team can do special things. I’m really excited.”

Westmont women’s basketball coach Kirsten Moore is hoping her young squad can pick up things as quickly as her 16 1/2-month-old daughter Alexis is doing these days.

“She’s growing so fast and doing so many things she couldn’t do last basketball season,” said Moore. “I’m having my mind blown every day in how quickly they grow and how quickly they learn. I’m really hoping my team can grow and learn in just a fraction of the time she’s growing.”

Moore said half of her squad is comprised of freshmen. “They’re going to have to fill some very big shoes of players who helped us win the national championship last year.”

After playing their first six games on the road, the Warriors begin a two-month homestand this Friday and Saturday with a four-team tournament.

The inaugural CHM Hotels Invitational will include NAIA top-25 teams Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), Carroll College (Montana), The Master’s and Westmont. The Warriors play Carroll at 6 p.m. on Friday and take on Freed-Hardeman at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The Westmont men’s basketball team is off to a 1-2 start, but coach John Moore promised the Warriors will be better as the season progresses.

“You’ll see a team that’s better in December than they are in November; better in January than we were in December, and better in March than we were in February.

“I look forward to coaching this group because they are a gritty bunch.”

VOLLEYBALL

Laguna Blanca coach Jim Alzina reported that the Owls will play host to Crossroads in a CIF Division 4-A semifinal match on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

He introduced four-year players Chloe Richman, Grace Woolf and Clara Madsen has “big, big reasons why we’re ranked No. 1 in CIF. I’m really proud of them.”

Westmont Sports Information Director Ron Smith said the Warriors will host Menlo in a NAIA National Tournament first-round match on Saturday at 7 p.m. The winner advances to the finals in Sioux City, Iowa.

SOCCER

The Westmont women’s team will play host to Westminster, Utah in a first-round NAIA National Tournament match on Saturday. The winner advances to the Sweet 16 in Alabama.

WATER POLO

Ryan McMillan, a volunteer assistant at UCSB, said the Gaucho men’s team made the MPSF Tournament. He introduced Matt Gronow, Derek Shoemaker and Matt Hamilton as integral parts of the team.

“Each one of these guys brings a great piece to our team, and in year’s past we haven’t had all the pieces,” McMillan said. “This year, we have all the pieces and we’re getting ready for the MPSF tournament.”

The San Marcos girls water polo team is looking forward to a big season. Assistant coach Pat Reynolds brought two impact players on the squad: Riley Heiduk and Jenna Phreaner.

FOOTBALL

With his team down 31-21 going into halftime at West L.A., SBCC coach Craig Moropoulos was ready to light a fire under his guys with a stirring halftime speech.

“I’m pretty motivational and I really get after my guys,” Moropoulos said. “I looked in their eyes and said: ‘If you don’t think you can win this game, stay in this locker room. If you think you can win this game, then follow me out.’ I walked out and I took them out 10 minutes early and we had to sit on the field. I didn’t have much else to say.”

The wait didn’t bother the Vaqueros as they stormed back and outscored West L.A. 28-7 to win the game 49-38 and finish the season 7-3.

“It was a fantastic season. I’m really proud of our players,” said Moropoulos.

Carpinteria coach Ben Hallock presented his three team captains: Kevin Stein (OLB/TE), Duncan Gordon (DE/TE) and Ian Craddock (QB/DB/K) and Athlete of the Week, Bryson Frazer (RB/WR/DB). Their stellar play is a big reason the Warriors are 8-3 and in the second round of the CIF Northwest Division playoffs. After winning at La Salle last Friday, they play El Segundo at home on Friday night.

“We’ve been practicing and playing really well,” Hallock said. “We’re looking forward to another week of practice. If we win, we’ll practice on Thanksgiving. That’s a goal for us.”

Hallock reported that Jonathan Esqueda, the Warriors’ running back who was seriously injured when his car was broadsided four weeks ago, traveled with the team to La Salle last Friday and is making great progress in his recovery.

Bishop Diego assistant coach Steve Robles said the Cardinals’ next CIF Northwest Division playoff game is at Duarte on Friday night.

“They have a big offensive line and two of probably the quickest running backs we’ve seen all year. We’ll have our work cut out for us.”

The Cardinals blanked North Torrance, 34-0, in the first round.

Robles introduced running back Abel Gonzalez and fullback Ricky Herrera.

SWIMMING

UCSB coach Greg Wilson brought Anne Peanasky and Monica Garcia from the women’s team and men’s team captains Andrew Dossa and Lucas Norman.

The Gaucho women are off to a 5-1 start of the season while the men are 2-1.

On Peanasky and Garcia, Wilson said they are part of a group of five seniors who have scored 50 percent of the team’s points in championship meets since their freshman year.

He said Dossa and Norman are both pre-med students and tremendous leaders on the squad.

CIF CHAMPIONS

The Carpinteria girls tennis team was recognized for winning their second straight CIF Division 5 championship last Friday.

Team members are Merissa Souza, MaKenna Pike, Odessa Stork, Allison Wagner, Emily Saito, Natalie Saito, Jackie Wilson, Lesly Zapata, Kelsie Bryant, Gabi Montes de Oca and Kassandra Ni.

The Warriors went 23-2.

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