You could tell winter sports were in season by the coaches in attendance at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Café.
Boys basketball, girls soccer, girls water polo and men’s basketball were on the agenda for the final luncheon of November.
Santa Barbara High boys basketball coach Dave Bregante has only one starter back from last year’s CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA championship team, so he’s not really sure yet how things are going to play out this season.
“Last year, we played mostly six guys and five of them are gone, so it’s going to be real interesting,” he said. “We have a chance to be a good team. The kids are coachable.”
He introduced junior Morgan Peus, who opened the season with two good games. He hit a big shot down the stretch in a close win over Righetti and scored 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting in a win over Pioneer Valley.
“He’s a great shooter,” Bregante said. “He’s going to be a special player. The best thing about him is he’s only a junior.”
San Marcos: Coach Landon Boucher also has a new team, and he’s excited about its future after opening the season with a pair of blowout wins.
“We got a couple of wins and got our confidence going,” he said.
Jackson Stormo, the Royals’ 6-foot-8 center, raised his confidence and his game. He had 18 and 22 points in the wins over Pioneer Valley and Nipomo.
“I’m proud of Jackson. What he’s been doing on the court in games he’s doing in practice,” said Boucher. “His focus in practice is pretty consistent, it’s mature for a 16 year old. His consistency is carrying over into the games.”
The Royals face a couple of tough opponents on the road this week, playing at Arroyo Grande and Chaminade.
Dos Pueblos: After DP’s successful football season came to an end in the CIF quarterfinals, basketball coach Joe Zamora got to practice with a full squad for two days before taking on powerhouse Mater Dei in its opener.
“They had a front line of 6-11, 6-10, 6-10, 6-7, 6-5. That’s hard to compete against,” he said.
Despite losing by a big margin, he said playing Mater Dei was a good way to prepare his team for the rest of the season. The Chargers begin play in the Central Coast Classic this week against San Luis Obispo and Righetti.
Seniors Dylan Shugart and Diego Riker are two key performers for the Chargers. Zamora said Shugart has become more of a team player. “I really appreciate that out of him.” He noted that Shugart is a good free-throw shooter and will be looking for him to get to the line a lot this season.
Riker is a versatile player who can play three positions. “He has the ability to get to the basket; he’s real quick,” said Zamora.
Providence: Coach Steve Stokes introduced junior Bryan Sheets, the leading scorer for the Patriots last season.
“He’s more well-rounded, a more dynamic player than last year,” said Stokes.
The Patriots start their season with a busy week, playing at Valley Christian Academy on Tuesday before traveling to the three-day Santa Clarita Christian Tournament on Thursday. They open the tournament against Fresno Christian, the CIF-Central Section Division 5 runner-up. On Monday, they play at Carpinteria.
Carpinteria: Athletic director Pat Cooney introduced two important players for coach Henry Gonzalez’s Warriors, Eli Correa and Terrell Richardson. He called Correa the most skilled player on the squad and said Richardson is a quiet player who plays with a big heart.
Westmont men: After recording a big win at Concordia in Irvine, the Warriors stubbed a toe and lost to a young Southern Oregon team at the Menlo Tournament.
“Our guys thought it was going to be easy and it wasn’t,” said coach John Moore, who added there were lots of conversations at the hotel following the first loss of the season.
The Warriors (6-1) turned things around and soundly beat UC Merced the following day.
Moore said the loss should end up benefiting the team for the rest of the season.
“I’m glad we had the loss because the next month is going to be fun to coach these guys. There’s an alertness that is at a different level than it has been.”
UCSB men: The strength of the team right now is in the post with Jalen Canty, Ami Lakoju and Alex Hart, said assistant coach Brandon Veltri. They combined for 19-of-30 shooting and 42 points in a loss at USC on Sunday.
“We had an idea of how we were going to play, and now we have an idea how we think we’re going to play from here on out,” said Veltri. “Those three guys are going to be big part of that.”
Veltri said the team still has some growing to do and believes it is on right track.
The Gauchos (0-5) look for the first win on Thursday at home against Sonoma State.
San Marcos: Second-year coach Edwin Portillo has the luxury of four standout seniors from a team that reached the CIF quarterfinals last year. And all four have committed to play at the next level.
Danielle Anderson, last year’s Channel League Defensive MVP, she signed with Cal Poly. Forward Chloe Hamer, a second-team all-league player last year, is headed to Pomona Pitzer. UC San Diego-bound Natalie Widmer, a first-team central defender last season, is being moved up top to do some goal scoring. Lastly, Raynee Odell cleans things up and starts attacks as the defensive midfielder. She’s headed to Point Loma.
Carpinteria: Senior’s Xochitl Moreno and Elizabeth Estrada are difference makers at opposite ends of the field for the Warriors.
Assistant coach Lucy Carleton said Moreno reminds her of a panther as she stalks after opposing offensive players approaching the attacking third of the field.
Estrada is a goal scorer. As a sophomore, she tallied more than 20 goals.
“She didn’t play last year, so I’m excited to have her back on the field and excited to be able to watch both of them in their final season,” said Carleton.
GIRLS WATER POLO
San Marcos: Coach Chuckie Roth said he had so many freshmen come out for the program that he formed two JV teams. The JV A-team will play in the Villa Park varsity tournament.
A key member of that team is Luiza Moreno. “She exemplifies what it mean to be a high school athlete,” Roth said. “She never played club water polo or swimming and is a varsity level athlete.”
She’s also an outstanding student, carrying a GPA of 4.6.
Freshman Ella Prentice made an impression on Roth when he was coaching club water polo. On the back of her suit was the word “feisty.” He now calls her “Feisty P,” the “P” from her last name.
He was impressed with her play in a recent scrimmage and said “she will fit in well with our system.”
Dos Pueblos: Coach Connor Levoff raved about the academic prowess, work ethic and time management of players Thea Neushul and Lola Macy.
Neushul carries a 4.6 GPA, is part of DP’s engineering academy, plays in a band “and still manages to play water polo at a really high level. It’s reflective of her work ethic in and out of the pool,” said Levoff. “She’s one who has plugged away and is super, super disciplined. I really value players like that.”
Macy has a 4.2 GPA and is looking at colleges like Tufts and the University of Virginia. Levoff said she is embedded in the International Baccalaureate program, which requires students to go above and beyond the classroom work. “Her balance expectations and water polo is really, really something,” he said.
Santa Barbara: Coach Mark Walsh expressed how thankful and appreciative he is to be coaching water polo and the talented student-athletes he comes across every year.
He introduced two of those athletes: juniors Alex Szymczak and Georgia Ransone. After being the first player off the bench last year, Szymczak will be one of the Dons’ main players this season. She possesses speed and is a good attacker, said Walsh.
Ransone is a three-year starter who will have an expanded role this season. “We’re going to let her unleash all of her skills this year,” said Walsh.
Carpinteria: The Warriors return two key players, goalie Nicole Poulos and two-meter defender Alisa Lemere. Poulos made 197 saves last season, with a percentage rate of .570, tops in the CIF division, according to coach Lance Hoffman.
Lemere collected 47 steals in the tough 2-meter position. She plays the point on offense. The Warriors, who play in the tough Tri-Valley League with Foothill Tech (CIF champion) and Malibu, are looking to make the playoffs for the third straight year.
SBCC: The Vaqueros are on a roll. Seeded 14th in the Southern California Regionals, they won three playoff games to advance to their first State Final Four.
They’ll play Diablo Valley in one semifinal match on Friday at 7 p.m. at Ventura College. The game will be live streamed, according to SBCC Sports Information Specialist Dave Loveton. Check the SBCC athletics web site at sbccvaqueros.com.