Dons falter in Classic opener against Curtis

The Curtis Vikings spoiled the season debut of Bryson Lloyd for the beleaguered Santa Barbara boys basketball team, keeping the Dons at arms-length in the second half of a 60-47 decision at J.R. Richards Gym.

“Bryson gave us some good minutes,” said Dons head coach Chris Hantgin, whose team slips into the fifth-place bracket where they will face Oxnard on Monday at 5:30 p.m. “It’s good to have him out.”

“We’ve been trying to get everybody to be here so we can gel as a team and just know each other more,” said Santa Barbara’s Roberto Nelson after the game. “We haven’t really had a chance to have everybody here.”

Indeed, the Dons haven’t had a complete squad in any contest yet this season.

“It’s just been slow to develop,” Hantgin said about how the preseason has unfolded.

“Here we are at Christmas time and we’re getting ready for league and I’m trying to be patient but it’s frustrating. We’re not as prepared as we’d like to be.”

Against Curtis, the Dons were led by Nelson’s team-high 17 points and eight rebounds. Spencer Thomas had a solid all-around night, scoring 12 points with five rebounds, three assists and five steals.

Point guard Kyle Leonard scored nine and perimeter-threat John Uribe chipped in eight.

Perhaps boosted by Lloyd’s return, Santa Barbara took an early 14-11 lead.

“I’m just trying to do what I can and play my part, kinda be the physical guy,” said Lloyd.

The Vikings turned it around in the second quarter as Dominique Williams hit two 3-pointers and Chad Rasmussen added another in quick succession and an 11-1 run put the Vikings up for good.

Curtis’ Stan Langlow had a game-high 19 points and Williams threw in 14.

But Vikings coach Tim Kelly was talking defense.

“We pride ourselves on the defensive end and playing hard. Our goal is to keep people under 50 and we did that again,” said Kelly, whose Vikings (5-2) beat San Marcos 54-36 in their opener.

“We knew Nelson is a good player and we wanted to limit his touches and we did a fairly good job of that.”

Curtis extended a 26-20 halftime lead into a 12-point advantage by the start of the final frame and never let the Dons cut the lead under 10.

The Dons fall to 5-7 on the season and have two more games at the Holiday Classic before their Channel League opener on Jan. 9 against Ventura.

“When we get our team, we’ll be able to show everybody what we really made up of,” Nelson said.

Or, as Lloyd put it:

“We gotta get our groove back on.”

CURTIS 60, SANTA BARBARA 47

CURTIS — Dom. Williams 14, Langlow 19, Rasmussen 9, Van Essen 4, Vaughn 4, Lacy 5, Cooks 5. Totals – 20, 5-12, 60.

SANTA BARBARA — Uribe 8, Leonard 9, Nelson 17, Thomas 12, Lloyd 1. Totals – 17, 10-15, 47.

Curtis              11  15  16  18 — 60

Santa Barbara  14   6   10  17 — 47

3-Pointers – SB 1 (Nelson), C 5 (Dom. Williams 2, Rasmussen 2, Cooks). Total Fouls – SB 17, C 12.

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