Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon turned into the Santa Barbara High girls basketball admiration society.
And, all the praise was well deserved.
The Andrew Butcher-coached Dons captured the first CIF title in program history last Saturday with a 67-43 win over Lake Elsinore-Lakeside. The players came to the luncheon wearing their CIF Champion T-shirts.
BY BARRY PUNZAL – PRESIDIOSPORTS.COM
“I want to say congratulations,” San Marcos tennis coach Jarrod Bradley told Butcher and his players. “No one deserves it more than you. He’s probably happier for the girls than for himself.”
Bradley, who used to coach the San Marcos boys basketball team, told the luncheon audience how much he appreciates Butcher’s coaching style.
“My respect grew immensely when I watched him coach the last game,” he said. “He’s had a lot of talent, no question, but his ability to communicate with his players is unparalleled in Santa Barbara. When a player made a mistake, he’s comfortable with leaving them in and let them play through it. And then when they come out and are in a mindset to be coached, that’s when he says a few words of encouragement and helps them figure out themselves how to play on the court.”
When it was Butcher’s turn at the podium, he had a list of thank yous like an Oscar winner at the Academy Awards. He acknowledged the Santa Barbara High administration, principal John Becchio and athletic director Joe Chenoweth, his assistant coaches Jess Martinez and Carlita Gonzalez, team videographers, the Round Table and the fans who attended the game.
He brought the 14-player team and introduced team captains Michaila Miller, Alyssa Cosio and Desirea Coleman.
On the championship game, Butcher said he knew before the playoffs his team would probably face Lakeside and he felt at the time it couldn’t beat the Lancers.
“I just knew we wouldn’t beat them, we weren’t good enough, we weren’t mentally strong enough,” he said.
So, for the next 3 ½ weeks, Butcher said he was “a total jerk” in practice.
“I was miserable. And, I’m annoying to begin with, right ladies,” he said as he looked at his players. “I was not nice. I was not kind. And we got tougher mentally, and we played well against a tough team.
“We were the tougher team, weren’t we?”
The Dons were seeded No. 1 in Division 3 of the CIF State Regionals. They’ll play Shafter of the Central Section in a first-round game Wednesday at 7 p.m. at J.R. Richards Gym.
UCSB finished the regular season with wins over Hawaii and Cal Poly, but the incident last Thursday at the Thunderdome, when a fan ran onto the court and confronted Hawaii coach Gib Arnold and taunted the players, drew most of the attention.
“It was a sad situation,” Gaucho assistant Dave Campbell said. “We apologized numerous times to Hawaii’s players and coaches. That is something that just can’t happen. We’re embarrassed by it. We like our fans to be enthusiastic and like them to come out to the games and cheer for the Gauchos. That’s what we want them to do, not to come on the floor and bring attention onto themselves. We’re really sorry that happened.”
The Gauchos finished second in the Big West and will play Cal Poly in the first round of the Big West Tournament at noon on Thursday at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
Even though her team was knocked out in the GSAC Tournament semifinals, Westmont women’s coach Kirsten Moore said the Warriors will get an at-large berth to the NAIA national tournament in Frankfort, Ky. – the state capital, she reminded the luncheon crowed.
“Our body of work and how we played this year will get us a bid to the national tournament,” she said. “We obviously have great memories from there winning the national championship. We’re hoping we can make a run and create some more great memories.”
The 32-team tourney field will be selected on Wednesday.
Westmont sports information director Ron Smith said the chances were slim that the Westmont men’s team would make the tournament.
Roger Kuntz has a lot to happy about these days. His team is off to a 9-0 start and his daughter, Kristen, is part of his coaching staff this season.
Roger said his daughter has a two month break before starting a doctoral program in physical therapy and Long Beach State, so he asked her to help out with the team. Kristen was a standout player for the Royals in 2008-09.
San Marcos is coming off a title at the Redondo Tournament. Roger Kuntz introduced his four senior leaders: middle Taylor Mann, setter Christian Widmer, outside hitter Baker Johnson and outside hitter Shane Hauschild.
Santa Barbara coach Chad Arneson also brought the seniors he’s counting on to lead the Dons: outside hitter Tristan Fauntleroy, middle Quinn Denkensohn and libero Will Howard.
“The goal for us this year is to be consistent, be consistent with a young group,” said Arneson, who last week won his 200th match as coach of the Dons.
Coach Jarrod Bradley of San Marcos introduced Nicholas Leeds and Matt Lockwood from his 3-2 tennis team. He said Leeds has made great improvement in his game and Lockwood has been a solid server in doubles, averaging 70 percent on first serves.
Dos Pueblos coach Liz Frech lauded seniors Mason Casady and Ankush Khemani for all the community service work they’ve done during their four years as Chargers. The two players were recently honored by the Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons.
Dos Pueblos (3-0) has a big Channel League match against Santa Barbara on Tuesday.
Carpinteria is off to a 3-1 start. The Warriors have been getting good play from senior Ben Murray, the No. 1 singles player, and Collin Nathanson, who is 8-0 in doubles.
San Marcos coach Marilyn Hantgin said she has 300 athletes out for the track and field team. She introduced team leaders John Wilson (hurdles), Kyle Tran (sprints), Jewel Fisher (distance) and four-year team member Gabe Donovan.
Carpinteria can hold student government meetings at track practice. The team has the ASB President, Brooke Whitney, the vice president, Debra Goulert, and the senior class president, Nicole Pepper. Goulert is a thrower, Whitney a long and high jumper and Pepper a hurdler, who qualified for CIF last season.
Coach Van Lathan said he has more than 100 kids out for the track team.
“They’re mostly freshmen and sophomores,” he said. “This year is going to be a building year, building for the future.”
UCSB assistant track coach Rob Beamer introduced thrower Kathleen Guzman. She has PRs of 139 feet in the discus and 151 in the hammer.
“That’s a mark that can take her into the regional and beyond,” Beamer said of Guzman’s hammer throws.
Dos Pueblos coach Jon Uyesaka said the team goal this season was to score a lot of runs. “Unfortunately, we’ve scored four in three games, so we got a lot of work to do. Once it happens, the floodgates will open.”
He noted that second baseman Monica Salas will be one of those players who will lead the way. Uyesaka also brought Sara Fernandez, who has battled back from injuries.
Santa Barbara High coach Victor Alvarez introduced seniors Alejandra Castillo and Christina Garcia as kids who went from never playing sports to becoming key players on the team. Castillo is a third baseman and the clean-up hitter, while Garcia learned to become a switch hitter and plays left field
UCSB softball assistant Christy Ramos said the team is a special group and can challenge for a Big West title. The Gauchos are 15-5.