San Marcos fended off a late charge by Santa Barbara on Friday night by channelling the energy of a big-time performance from its home crowd in a 48-40 victory.
The Thunderhut was buzzing thanks to the San Marcos student section’s energy and theatrics, the pinnacle of which was a minute-long choreographed dance routine during a second-half timeout break.
The Royals used the extra help from their fans to take the lead for good in the second quarter. But after San Marcos had gained a 12-point lead, the Dons made their push and worked the deficit down to 37-33 in the fourth quarter.
San Marcos preserved its advantage by making 11 of 12 free throws in the final period. Paxton Ridgway was 6-for-6.
Santa Barbara, meanwhile, was 3-for-11 at the line.
“The difference in the game, we couldn’t make a free throw,” said Dons assistant coach Andy Gil. “The crowd was a big part of that. They were working hard. They were loud. It’s hard to play here.”
Cade Ridenour’s 16 points led all scorers. Fourteen of them came in the first half as the Royals got off to a positive start.
“I really wanted us to get out to a good start this game,” Ridenour said. “If we didn’t, if we lagged, we wouldn’t of won.”
The senior added 10 rebounds for a double-double.
Santa Barbara, which won the first two Channel League meetings between the two teams, is still by itself in second place in league. The Dons (6-4) play Dos Pueblos and Ventura next week.
San Marcos (6-5) has only Buena remaining on its regular season schedule.
Despite dropping two of the three games, the Royals outscored the Dons overall 155-151.
Sam Cohen’s 13 points was a team high for Santa Barbara. His fourth-quarter dunk was their best highlight. Andy Busch was also in double figures with 11.
SAN MARCOS 48, SANTA BARBARA 40
Santa Barbara – Cohen 13, Gonzalez 3, Lopez 5, Wagonhurst 3, Busch 11, Fay 4, Mikles 1. Totals 16 FG, 3-11 FTs.
San Marcos – White 5, Chad Ridenour 1, Hurtado 6, Hempy 9, Ridgway 6, Cade Ridenour 16, Douglas 2, Bryce Ridenour 3. Totals 14 FG, 15-20 FT.
SANTA BARBARA 9 5 11 15 – 40
SAN MARCOS 9 12 12 15 – 48
3-pointers SB 3 (Gonzalez, Lopez, Wagonhurst), SM 5 (Cade Ridenour 3, Bryce Ridenour, Hempy) Total Fouls – SB 18, SM 13.