Dons regain focus for water polo playoffs

Santa Barbara High girls water polo coach Mark Walsh wasn’t sure how his players would respond after losing to San Marcos for the first time a couple of weeks ago. The loss cost the Dons an outright Channel League title.

When the players arrived for practice the next day, he was pleasantly surprised by their mindset.

By Barry Punzal – PresidioSports.com

“They got in (the water) and they way they trained that day really told me they were not happy with what happened and they were ready to move forward,” Walsh said at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athlete Round Table press luncheon. “I was like, ‘Oh, man, if they’re going to continue like this, we’re going to be a really tough team to play in the playoffs.’

“They proved me right.”

The Dons upset third-seeded Corona del Mar in sudden death overtime on Saturday to advance to the CIF Division 1 semifinals. They’ll play Newport Harbor on Wednesday at the William Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine.

Santa Barbara battled back from a two-goal deficit in the last two minutes of overtime and won the game on a goal by Jessie Brummett with 30 seconds to go in the sudden death overtime period.

The huge victory brought praise from the U.S. Olympic team coach and several college coaches who were in attendance.

“The UCLA coach, the Stanford coach, the Olympic coach all came up and said, ‘Your kids are so tough; there are so many times they could’ve folded and they didn’t. You’re kids are really, really amazing,’” Walsh related. “And I said, ‘I think so too.’”

Walsh brought two players who were key in the win: goalie Sienna Goggia and field player Kristina Garcia.

On Goggia, he said she was a JV field player last year and stepped up to play goalie on the varsity.

“I told her this is your best chance of playing,” he said. “If you want to play every minute, you can be our goalie.”

The former volleyball player has been outstanding for the Dons. She made 10 saves in the quarterfinal win.

Garcia kept the Dons in the game, scoring four of the team’s first six goals. “She carried the scoring for 3 ½ quarters,” Walsh said. “Without her contributions, there’s no chance we’re playing Wednesday.

Chuckie Roth guided the San Marcos girls water polo team to its best season in school history. The Royals were knocked out by Los Alamitos in the Division 1 quarterfinals.

“We really had a great season and did great job,” Roth said. “We’re looking to build for the future.”

San Marcos returns the majority of its lineup. Roth brought two of those players, sophomore Hailey “Hulk” Gellert and freshman Brittany Prentice.

Really had a great season, did a great job. And we’re looking to build for the future. Return majority of lineup.

Sophomore Hailey Gellert, Call her “Hulk”. Toughen her up. Gave her action figure. Strong girl.

Brittany Prentice, freshman, 2-meter player, plays with all aggression 2-mter player needs to play, Born leader.

Roth transitioned to swimming. He’s coaching the girls at San Marcos and the new women’s team at SBCC.

He said San Marcos will be solid this season with athletes like senior and UCSB-bound Dasha Depew and freshman Amanda Hayes, who has already met a CIF Division 1 standard.

On the SBCC swim team, Roth introduced Rachelle Visser, who finished second overall in the WSC Pentathlon last week. “She’ll definitely be the backbone that carries our team this season,” he said of the student-athlete from the Netherlands.

Janina Schutz, from Germany, is another swimmer who Roth said will make an impact in meets.

The team has 17 swimmers.

UCSB SWIMMING

Coach Gregg Wilson said he has an incredible group of seniors but decided to bring four talented freshmen to the luncheon. He introduced Jiana Vargem and Reid Whaley of the women’s team and Clayton Young and Putnam Brown from the men’s squad.

“All four athletes make things much brighter for us down the road,” Wilson said.

The women finished second at the MPSF Championships last week. The men are headed to their final Pac-12 Championship meet in Seattle. Wilson said the Gauchos will join the MPSF next season.

“It will be good in many ways. The teams will be together,” he said.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

UCSB men’s assistant Dave Campbell reported that Al Williams is the leading rebounder in the country, averaging 12 boards per game.

He also noted that point guard Zalmico Harmon’s assist-to-turnover ratio ranks third in the country.

“The kid just doesn’t turn the ball over,” Campbell said. “He’s feeling much more comfortable in what we’re trying to do.”

The Gauchos have a big game at UC Irvine on Thursday. Both teams are 9-3 in the Big West.

Kirsten Moore set up the final week of the season for the Westmont basketball teams. The Warriors play Concordia on Wednesday and Biola on Saturday at Murchison Gym.

The Biola game will be Senior Night and Play for Kay breast cancer awareness night. There will be speakers and an ice cream social following the men’s game. She encouraged everyone attending the game to wear pink.

Westmont sports information director Ron Smith announced that Moore is receiving the Pat Summitt Courage Award. The award is named for the legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach, who three years ago was diagnosed with early-onset dementia.

WRESTLING

Dos Pueblos coach Anthony Califano brought three place finishers from the weekend’s CIF Divisional Championship meet. Senior Eden Martinez and junior Jeffy Uyesaka finished sixth, missing out on qualifying for the Masters Meet by one place.

Junior Cameron Cox qualified for the Masters Meet by finishing third at 128 pounds.

“He had an excellent tournament with three pins and a major decision,” Califano said.

Cox has to finish in the top 9 at the Masters Meet to qualify for the State Meet.

Califano is confident he can do it. So much so that he made a prediction.

“We’ll be back next week with a state qualifier,” he said.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Santa Barbara High assistant Joseph Bregante said seniors Jack Baker and Noah Burke have been tremendous for the Dons all season. They’ve guided the team to a 24-2 record and the quarterfinals of the 3A Division playoffs. They play at Bishop Amat on Tuesday.

“We always talk about in our program how great players make the players around them better,” Bregante said of Baker and Burke. “And both these guys are great players.”

Laguna Blanca coach Sal Rodriguez encouraged the community to come out and see his Owls take on L.A. Adventist in a CIF Division 6 quarterfinal game on Tuesday night at 7.

The Owls have won 13 of their last 14 games. “It’s been a good run,” Rodriguez said.

He introduced sophomores Chris Fowler and Chis Constantino as two players who “have been instrumental in our success.”

Bishop Diego’s boys play at New Community Jewish in West Hills on Tuesday in a 5AA quarterfinal game. Assistant coach Patrick Davis said guards AV Bennett, BJ Murillo and Peter Kwock all play a big part in the team’s success.

BOYS SOCCER

Dos Pueblos wasn’t sharp in the early part of its CIF playoff opener last week.

“I told the boys to relax,” coach Matt York said of his halftime talk during the game against Chino Hills.

The Chargers scored two goals on Tim Heiduk headers and won the game, 2-1. They travel to Palos Verdes on Tuesday for a second-round game in Division 1.

York introduced the “spine of the team,” forward Julio Rubio, central midfielder Tim Heiduk and center back Tucker Snider.

York said Rubio “is one of the most dynamic players in the Channel League” and has a lethal left foot. He said Heiduk “is invaluable for us in the air. He goes up and wins everything.” He called Snider the emotional leader and a hard-nosed, blue-collar player.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Andrew Butcher is not a screamer, but the longtime Santa Barbara girls basketball coach had to resort to screaming so his players could hear him above a loud Calabasas band during last Saturday’s CIF second-round playoff game.

“Their band is loudest band I’ve heard in my life,” he said. “So every timeout you can’t hear anything. I would yell and (the players) wouldn’t respond. They had this deer-in-the-headlights look. So I did something I’ve never done: I yelled with anger. I just screamed at them and they can actually hear me. It worked. I did not feel good after the game to scream at kids with anger in my voice. It wasn’t fun. I guess it worked.”

The Dons (23-5) won to earn a berth in the quarterfinals. They travel to Irvine on Wednesday.

Butcher introduced sophomore Jada Howard, the team’s third leading scorer; freshman Kimberly Gebhardt, a tough rebounder, and Liliana Ponce, a team sparkplug off the bench

Bishop Diego coach Jeff Burich was impressed about Jordyn Lilly’s 38-point performance in a first-round game of the playoffs.

“My senior year I scored 40 points the whole season, so I can’t even imagine what that would be like,” he said.

Burich also brought guard Morgan Wallace, who scored 17 points and shut down Silver Valley’s point guard in the second-round victory in Yermo.

On Wednesday, the Cardinals play host to Pasadena Poly in a 5AA quarterfinal game at SBCC’s Sports Pavilion. Tip off is 6 p.m.

COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL

SBCC coach Matt Jones made his luncheon debut. His Vaqueros are 5-2 heading into WSC play.

Jones, who played at Harvard last season, is being assisted by U.S. indoor masters player Steve Zelko and former Dos Pueblos star and Hawaii standout Brennon Dyer.

Jones said the Vaqueros are led by redshirt sophomore setter Drew Hogan and sophomore outside hitter Nick May.

UCSB assistant Cullen Irons said the Gauchos are 8-4, the best first-half start of the season since 2007, when they were ranked third in the nation. Irons introduced 6-8 middle Ryan Thompson.

NATIONAL CHAMPS

Before the recaps from the coaches, Round Table president Laurie Leighty introduced the National Champion Master Men’s cross country team from the Santa Barbara Athletic Association.

The quartet of Larry Brooks (73), Al Sladek (71), John Brennand (78) and Lawrence Suhr (70) took first place at the USA Cross Country Championships in Boulder Colorado last week. Brooks finished first overall in the 8k race in 39 minutes, 28 seconds. Sladek was third (44:37), Brennand sixth (46:48) and Suhr came in 10th (58.36).

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