Johnson faces possible perma-blush after luncheon

Annie Johnson received one of the best compliments a young woman can receive at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon, and she received it twice.

In discussing Johnson — a Westmont basketball player and the recipient of the Scholar Athlete of the Year Award for the school — coach Kirsten Moore said this:

“If I ever have the opportunity to have daughters, I would be proud to have them turn out like Annie.”

About a half-hour later, men’s coach John Moore (aka “The Original Coach Moore”) got up and said this:

“She makes me want my daughters to be a little bit like her. I hope they turn out to be a lot like her.”

Johnson’s cheeks are now in danger of being permanently tomato-colored from the blushing such words induce. The captain of the No. 13 Warriors carries a 3.83 GPA, majoring in studio art with a minor in kinesiology and hopes to go into strength and conditioning in the future.

She’s a two-time Golden Eagle Scholar Athlete at Westmont and an NAIA Academic All-American who is a mainstay on the Dean’s List. She is a member of the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes leadership team and helps teach down the road from Westmont at Cold Spring Elementary School.

On the court, she averages five points and four boards per game for the Warriors, who beat Biola before falling to Point Loma last week. In the Biola game, the Warriors trailed by six points with two minutes to go. In those two minutes, they missed four free throws and four of lay-ups, yet still managed to win after forcing a turnover with 3.7 seconds remaining and getting Jessica Case to the free-throw line. Once there, Case nailed both of her attempts to give Westmont a one-point win. Johnson had a pair of big baskets in the comeback.

“Our players never doubted that they could win that game,” said coach Moore (not “The Original” one).

John Moore earns “The Original” title because he’s been with the Warrior men for 16 years, while Kirsten Moore is in her fourth with the Warrior women.

The Westmont men did the opposite of the women, losing to Biola before beating Point Loma. They are now 15-11 overall and 9-8 in the GSAC. Coach Moore first talked about a Santa Barbara-related hoops event that didn’t involve the Warriors. On Saturday, Santa Barbara High alumnus Taylor Rochestie scored a career-high 33 points at Pauley Pavilion to lead Washington State to a huge upset over UCLA 82-81 (see a column on Rochestie written by Bill Dwyre of the L.A. Times).

The kicker is that UCLA is coached by another Santa Barbara native — Ben Howland.

“I was sitting right on the fence, going back-and-forth rooting for each of those guys,” said Moore. “It was a proud moment for Santa Barbara.”

The Warriors go up against the GSAC’s No. 1 team — Fresno Pacific — on Tuesday night.

One of Howland’s lifelong friend’s — Sal Rodriguez — is coaching on a much smaller stage but has produced a pair of Rochestie-esque upsets, as his Laguna Blanca boys basketball team still alive in the quarterfinals of the CIF Division VI-AA playoffs.

The Owls didn’t even make the postseason until Dunn had to pull out due to school vacation. Laguna then proceeded to upset No. 5 Orangewood 60-57 and No. 11 L.A. Adventist 50-44 to set up Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. home game against No. 4 Hesperia Christian.

Rodriguez said the Owls (9-15) “looked like a junior high team” compared to their opponents in the two games. Male Athlete of the Week Luther Tarver-Burks scored 20 against Orangewood and 22 against L.A. Adventist, averaging 20 per game over the Owls’ last six contests.

“It’s been a fun ride and I don’t want it to end,” said Rodriguez, who also introduce freshman Brandon Bickett, who made a pair of big shots in the team’s latest win.

Bishop Diego’s girls hoops squad is the other prep team still alive in CIF, and the Cardinals will host fourth-seeded Chadwick on Wednesday at the Brickhouse. Female Athlete of the Week Janelle Kohler has had double-doubles in both playoff games, with 14 points and 14 boards in the first round against Yeshiva and 10 points with 10 boards in the next win over Aquinas.

Senior Jennifer Jimenez could have just as easily taken home the award, having accumulated 23 points, 10 rebounds and five steals in the wins. Coach Jeff Burich also brught along Bishop’s other senior — Heather Aijian — whom Burich described as a great leader and teammate.

“It’s a privilege just to be able to come to the Round Table any week in February,” said Burich, whose team has not been this deep into the postseason for many years.

There was an already-crowned CIF champion at Harry’s on Monday. Dos Pueblos wrestler Nick Wagner won the CIF heavyweight title over the weekend in Oxnard, defeating Buena’s Julian Ferguson 8-3 in the championship match.

Coach Anthony Califano also introduced CIF runner-up Connor Dorais, who came back from injury to beat rival Isaac Archibeque in the semifinals of CIF, and Chuy Lopez, who fonished sixth in the 125-pound division. The Chargers finished sixth overall out of 53 teams.

Next up for Wagner and Dorais is the CIF Masters meet in Temecula, from which the top nine in each weight class advance to the State Championships.

“Hopefully, no actually, we WILL be back next week before the state tournament,” said Califano.

UCSB men’s hoops assistant coach Matt Stock was the bearer of good news from the Gaucho front, where the team is on a season-high 4-game winning streak after Saturday’s overtime win against Montana State in the ESPN BracketBusters game at the Thunderdome.

The Gauchos didn’t take the lead until overtime, when sixth-year senior Chris Devine and freshman James Nunnallly stepped up to lead the way. UCSB plays its final road game at Northridge on Wednesday before returning home for a 3-game homestand heading into the Big West Tournament.

UCSB’s tennis programs were also at the luncheon. Coach Marty Davis’ 61st-ranked men’s team is doing just fine despite losing top singles player Philip Therp for the season, standing at 3-4 overall and 1-0 in Big West play. Denmark-native Alexander Konigsfeldt has stepped into Therp’s spot and has “relished in center court” according to Davis, while also playing in the top doubles spot. The Gauchos host Irvine — considered a serious threat to UCSB’s title defense — on Friday.

If seeing some good tennis isn’t enough to get you out to the match, the free pizza offered should be. 

Pete Kirkwood’s women’s team is currently 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the Big West after falling to Irvine on Sunday. The squad recently posted its first win over Loyola Marymount in three years and also took down Hawaii in a hard-fought singles battle.

Luncheon atendee Sophia Novak has a 5-1 record and won her match in the Hawaii showdown 7-6 in the third set. Bryanna Ojeda picked up the team’s only on against the Anteaters, and is currently 3-2 at the No. 6 spot.

A pair of girls soccer coaches reported on their recently-completed seasons to the Monday crowd. Kymberly Williams-Evans‘ DP squad lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Ventura in the second overtime of a play-in game back on February 14th.

The coach said that she was incredinly proud of her team’s efforts in her first year at the helm, and introduced leading-scorer Michelle Gee and goalie Nicole Eisenbeisz.

Lucy Carleton’s Carpinteria team went from league champion to sixth-place this in the Tri-Valley League year, but the coach said the Warriors never put their heads down.

“Of course, the five teams ahead of us all went to the playoffs. We’re in a very tough league,” she said. 

There are two reasons why the future is bright for the program — freshman dynamos Shirley Benitez and Tanya Arroyo. Benitez is always the shortest player on the field but seems to magically get the most headers, while Arroyo stepped in to play goalie and did a fantastic job, according to Carleton.

Two of the hardest-working people in the local sports scene are Westmont’s Ron Smith and SBCC’s Dave Loveton. Smith, the Sports Information Director for the Warriors, came to the podium and discussed the Westmont baseball team, which has been steadily re-building under manager Scott Deck in recent years.

There was a major setback when the Tea Fire claimed the team’s facility this November, but the school valiantly put up a temporary re-build, which will be completely renovated again with a new facility after this season. Smith reported that while the Warriors were off to a 2-13 start, their team batting average is up and ERA is down.

Loveton disappointed everyone by stepping to the podium having shaved the mustache he has displayed so prominently in recent months, but he still did a nice job reporting on Vaquero teams. After a 10-1 start, the SBCC baseball team ha a rough week and now stands at 11-5. A highlight was 6-foot-6 freshman hurler Jeremy Peterson, who struck out 12 and allowed only three hits and one run through eight innings of work in his first collegiate start, a 12-4 win over Pasadena.

The Vaquero women’s basketball team picked up a must-win game against Moorpark last week, an 82-56 stomping. Katie Randall had 16 points and six boards for the Vaqueros, who received the 17th seed for the SoCal Regionals on and will open up at Cerritos on Wednesday.

Finally, like the flowers that are just starting to pop up around town, a couple of spring coaches popped up at Harry’s Monday. Dos Pueblos boys tennis coach Liz Frech introduced her two captains, senior John Kim and junior Christian Edstrom. The Chargers will open up with matches against Cate and Oxnard next week.

New San Marcos baseball coach Rob Crawford has ties to a whole heap of sports notable programs programs — he used to coach at Westmont, his brother Tom coaches Bishop Diego’s football team, his other brother Ken coaches the aforementioned Biola women’s hoopsters, and his son Robert is a starter for rival Santa Barbara High this year.

“I told him to watch out for that first brush-back pitch,” joked Crawford, before adding a classic one-liner:

“And it’s kind of fun, because he was No. 1 academically in his class this year after the first semester… Someday I’ll tell him who his real father is.”

If his grades are that good and he’s also a great athlete, he just might be related to Annie Johnson.