Nelson, Dons stay solid against erratic Westlake

Roberto Nelson had one of his most complete games of the season Wednesday night, tallying 24 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and two steals as the Santa Barbara High boys basketball team picked up a 58-52 win over visiting Westlake in the first round of the CIF Division II-A playoffs.

“I knew I had to come out and just bring that enthusiasm to the team in the first half to get us going, so I did that and the team contributed and we had a real good game,” said Nelson, who poured in 18 before halftime.

While the Dons (13-10) played a solid, consistent all-around game, Westlake (7-21) was all mixed up. The Warriors came out scorching and made eight treys with just a couple of misses in the first half, but went a miserable 4-for-11 from the free-throw line, including a 2-for-7 mark on the freebies in the fourth quarter.

“They surprised us early, but as far as winning a game on threes, it’s kind of hard,” said Nelson. “You’ve gotta have an all-around game to win, so it kind of showed in the second half.”

Six-foot-3 Westlake forward Alec Hess won’t be playing big-time college ball next year like the Oregon State-bound Nelson, but he showed plenty of versatility with 24 points on 3-pointers and three big blocks down low. Warriors coach Tom Donahue said that Hess is being recruited by Division-3 schools such as Chapman and Chico State.

Spencer Thomas, whom Donahue described as “tough as nails,” chipped in 13 and Bryson Lloyd added 12 for the Dons.

Both teams came out of the gates on fire, but while Westlake was doing its damage from beyond the arc, Santa Barbara was doing it with effective penetration and ball movement. Thomas passed cross-court to Nelson who sent it back across the floor to John Uribe for a pretty fast break early on that made it 8-5 in favor of the Dons.

Lloyd got a great assist from Uribe late in the first to tie things up at 18-apiece, and Nelson took his cue from there, scoring 14 points in the second quarter on a long-ball, three free-throws and three nice drives before a buzzer-beating jumper at the half. He finished 7-for-7 from the charity stripe in the game.

“He just had a complete game. He was nursing a little bit of a sore ankle, although you wouldn’t have known it tonight. He looked really good tonight,” said Santa Barbara coach Chris Hantgin.

The Santa Barbara lead hovered at around four points for much of the third quarter and got to as big as 10 to start the fourth. Westlake kept it in single digits, but couldn’t hit from the line and the Dons held on to advance. They’ll play against top seeded Eisenhower on the road Friday.

What does Hantgin know about the next opponent?

“I know they’re really good,” he said bluntly. “It might be a David and Goliath scenario.”


WESTLAKE – De La Cerna 2, Detweiler 6, Silber 6, Hess 24, Gauthier 5, Friedman 9. Totals 9 4-11 52.

SANTA BARBARA – Thomas 13, Uribe 6, Lloyd 12, Nelson 24, Maldonado 3. Totals 21 12-15 58.

Westlake…..18  14  9  11 – 52

Santa Barbara….18  19  11  10 – 58

3-point goals — W 10 (Detweiler 2, Silber 1, Hess 4, Gauthier 1, Friedman 2.

Total fouls — W 11, SB 14.

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