Basketball teams strive for simplicity

Sometimes it’s best to keep things simple.

With gas prices as high as they were this summer, longtime Santa Barbara High girls basketball coach Andrew Butcher did just that, opting to purchase a pair of Geo Metros — the lovable, pint-sized hatchbacks that get around 50 miles to the gallon. Sure, he sacrificed a few style points, but being simple and functional has its advantages.

Butcher was inspired so much by the Suzuki engineering in his new hot rods that he decided to apply some of it to his hoops squad this year.

“I was just amazed at how efficient the cars were and everything about the design, so I talked to my assistant coach and we redesigned the team,” said Butcher in the Ranchero Room at Harry’s for this week’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon.

That meant shorter, more intense drills in practice as well as monosyllabic play names and a two-minute time limit on the coach’s speeches (he spoke for exactly one minute and 44 seconds to the luncheon crowd on Monday).

It’s worked, because the senior-laden Dons are 3-0 after winning the Bryan Ayer Classic over the weekend, which included a defeat over a formidable Pinole Valley team in the championship game.

“We were firing on all three-cyinders,” said Butcher in a sly reference to his beloved cars.

Female Athlete of the Week Rebecca Griffin, the Dons’ point guard, averaged 23 points on the weekend and was named to the all-tourney squad along with Brandi Blackwell, who had a whopping 18 points and 15 rebounds in a 16-minute span of one of the wins.

—BISHOP DIEGO BOYS BASKETBALL: Sam Kwock made the selection process for Male Athlete of the Week simple.

The freshman guard poured in eight treys for 24 points in the Cardinals’ win over a huge Besant Hill team in the semifinals of the Bishop Diego/Laguna Blanca Tournament. He also shut down Besant Hill’s 6-foot-4 point guard, who had about 16 inches on the freshman.

Kwock then scored 24 more in the tourney final against Blair, but the Cards wound up on the losing end of a close one. Fellow freshman and all-tourney selection Paul Garcia also had a stellar weekend with an 11 points-per-game average.

After the game, coach Ray Vazquez explained his philosophy on coaching the young team:

“It’s not rocket science. We keep it simple,” he said.

—DOS PUEBLOS GIRLS SOCCER: Kimberly Williams-Evans’ task in taking over the Charger program this season was not simple.

“We had no balls because they were stolen over the summer, we had no equipment and we had no budget,” she said.

What they did have, though, was talent, and the coach is confident that it will produce wins as the season progresses. She has introduced a new formation for the team to play in, and happy that the improvement from game-to-game has been substantial.

She brought along the two anchors of her back line, Kristen Witchey and Katie Boehm.

—UCSB MEN’S VOLLEYBALL: The Gaucho spikers also have a new coach, as Rick McLaughlin has stepped in to fill the big shoes of Ken Preston, who retired last season after 30 years at the helm. McLaughlin was under the weather, so assistant coach Lee “The Tree” Nelson—a former Santa Barbara HIgh and UCSB star—spoke for him.

The Gauchos are young this year, but had a promising outing in a recent preseason tournament, sweeping past Long Beach State.

“To be frank, we couldn’t be in better hands right now. The transition has been seamless,” said Nelson.

Since it’s finals week out in Gaucholand, the coaches figured out it would be best to bring the teams two best students — hard-working libero Andy McGuire and middle blocker Matt Thobe.

—CARPINTERIA GIRLS SOCCER: Joselyn Gamez has been simply superb since she stepped on the field for Lucy Carleton’s team three years ago, leading the Warriors in scoring each season. She’s scored in all four of Carpinteria’s games this year, and the team is off to a 2-1-1 start.

Nine seniors graduated from last year’s team, but there’s a spirited group of new leaders including Gamez and Yadira Saldana — who’s such a competitor that she’s already racked up three yellow cards on the year.

“It’s just because of the intensity of her play. She doesn’t play dirty at all, in fact she’s a great sportsman,” said the coach.

—BISHOP DIEGO GIRLS SOCCER: The Cardinals’ week was a very productive one according to coach Brent Gonzalves, who chose to take players Mariel Santana and Candace Melgoza not because they are the team’s captains, but because “they are quality human beings.”

The Cardinals host Cate on Wednesday before playing in the Villanova Tournament over the weekend.

—BISHOP DIEGO GIRLS BASKETBALL: Jeff Burich’s team lost the first nine quarters it played this season, but has won the following seven. The team is 2-2 and has had three different scoring leaders so far.

Allison Breuer earned that distinction on Friday, and Courtney Houston earned a Gatorade that Burich awards his players for taking charges. Bishop hosts a tournament along with Laguna Blanca this weekend.

—UCSB WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Assistant coach Evan Unrau told of the Gauchos’ successful return home, as they snapped a 3-game losing streak with a commanding win over Nevada, which had previously beaten No. 7 Louisville, and Sunday’s win over a Gonzaga squad which has two candidates for the Wooden Award.

The Gauchos play Pepperdine, Harvard and Kentucky before the Big West season gets underway.

—SAN MARCOS BOYS BASKETBALL: The Royals finished fourth in the 8-team San Luis Obispo Kiwanis Tournament over the weekend, a strong start considering the team returns only two players who saw significant minutes on varsity last season.

San Marcos beat a solid El Segundo team on Saturday, as senior Chris Vines scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the game and helped hold the Eagles scoreless in the second quarter. Aaron Solis, who pinch-hit for head coach Jarrod Bradley, brought along point guard Christian Rios, whom Bradley said is the hardest worker on the team.

They play in the Coast Union Tournament this week.

—SAN MARCOS GIRLS BASKETBALL: Solis also spoke on behalf of coach Kristyn Miller, whose team finished third in the FIllmore Tournament over the weekend. Senior guard Kelley Chilton has made 40 percent of her 3-pointers so far this year, while Claudia Ochoa has established herself as the most athletic player on the team.

The Royals host the Gold Coast Tournament this weekend along with Rio Mesa. Games can be caught at the Thunderhut on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

—SANTA BARBARA BOYS BASKETBALL: While Butcher used an automobile comparison to describe his team, coach Chris Hantgin used Loreto Plaza, the home of Harry’s which is currently undergoing a facelift.

“We’re a little like the front of this shopping center. There’s some beauty out there, but it’s still a little messy,” he said.

The Dons have been decimated by lingering football injuries and have not been able to get practices in with the whole team. Two bright spots, however, have been seniors Kyle Leonard and Spencer Thomas. Leonard is shooting 50-percent from the field and is the team’s second leading scorer, while Thomas is leading the way. He is capable of playing guard on offense and center on defense.

—LAGUNA BLANCA BOYS BASKETBALL: The Owls are 2-3, with the two victories coming over tough opponents in Villanova Prep and Fillmore.

Coach Sal Rodriguez brought along top-scorer Connor Murphy as well as bearded big-man Jake Longstreth, who pulled down 17 rebounds against Fillmore.

“If he shaved he’d get 20 boards,” joked Rodriguez.

—CARPINTERIA BOYS BASKETBALL: Coach John Ward is a math teacher, but he kept the number simple.

“We are undefeated; we are ranked in the top six in our league, we are ranked in the top 45 in our CIF section, and we are ranked in the top two in the city of Carpinteria.”

To put it simply, the Warriors haven’t played yet.

The Warriors kick it off against Carpinteria’s other team, the Cate Rams, on Tuesday. Football star Graham Craddock and golf ace Erik Price will be key contributors on the basketball court for the Warriors this season.

The team’s 40th annual Jim Bashore Classic tournament is coming up next week.

—LAGUNA BLANCA GIRLS BASKETBALL: Ernie Quiroz’s Owls have also yet to play a game, and will also begin the season Tuesday. The team includes three freshmen, five sophomores and a pair of seniors — cross-country star Sarah O’Connor and returning captain Kendall Hall.

—WESMONT WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Kirsten Moore faced her team in the locker room after a recent loss to powerhouse Concordia and saw something very promising.

“They had more determination in their eyes than they have all year,” she said.

It worked, because the team roared back and beat Hope International by 40 points in Saturday’s GSAC home-opener.

—SBCC BASKETBALL: Vaquero sports information director Dave Loveton is growing a moustache, and its potential for greatness is as promising as the Vaqueros are on the court this year.

Sandrine Krul’s women’s team has won four of its last five games, with much thanks to Katie Randall, who scored 24 points and 11 rebounds in a recent game, and freshman Imelda Bealer had eight points, six steals and five assists in another.

The men, who will host the annual SBCC Classic this weekend, have seen a lot of promise from freshman David Lane, who recently scored 18, 18 and 30 points in a three-game stretch.

—SPECIAL OLYMPICS AWARD: Mark Pasquini is an enthusiastic Special Olympian who competes in floor hockey, soccer and swimming. He is a goalie on “Team Starfish” on the soccer field, and when asked what his favorite swimming event is, he keeps it simple:

“Swimming fast.”

Aided by PathPoint work training, Pasquini works at Alpha Resource Center as well as The Good Cup coffee shop on the Mesa.

—SPORTSPEOPLE OF THE MONTH: “Supermoms” might be a good way to describe the pair of dynamic women who received this month’s award.

Dawn Schroeder is the founder of Momentum 4 Life (, a national group which helps people motivate themselves to achieve through exercise and fitness, helping them to train for endurance events.

Jamie Allison is the founder of Moms In Motion (, which helps female athletes achieve fitness goals as well as life goals. There are currently 5,380 members of the group.

—WESTMONT MEN’S BASKETBALL: On December 13th, the new floor at Murchison Gym will be dedicated to legendary former Westmont coach Chet Kammerer.

Current-coach John Moore’s turn at the podium is always the last of the day, and for good reason. He always has a tasty nugget of wisdom that those at the luncheon can chew on the rest of the week.

On Monday, Moore talked about Dan Rasp. Rasp, a sophomore from Camarillo, is the Warriors’ top player on the court but is also the best cheerleader when he’s on the bench. Moore said that star players tend to have egos, but to conquer that ego can bring great rewards.

“Subvert your ego and find a way to be a better cheerleader when you’re not on the floor. It will make you a better teammate and a better team,” said Moore.

Chew on that.


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