Dons beat Buena, end Channel League drought

The holidays and the future became cheerier for the Santa Barbara High boys basketball program Friday night.

The Dons overcame a mistake-filled first half and celebrated their first Channel League boys basketball victory since the 2008-09 season with a 44-28 decision over Buena at J.R. Richards Gym.

Seniors Andy Busch and Sam Cohen combined for 30 points to carry Santa Barbara in the league opener.

“It feels real good to get our first Channel League win in two years,” said Cohen, who scored a game-high 16 points.

“That was awesome, that was the first one in two years,” added Busch, who bounced back from a first-half ankle injury to score three straight baskets to start the second half and finished with 14 points.

It wasn’t pretty to watch at times (especially in the second quarter), but the Dons got it done by playing more under control and using their size advantage in the second half.

“We turned it over less,” Cohen said. “There were less traveling calls — there were a bunch of traveling calls in the second quarter — and we got more layups; we weren’t settling for as many jump shots.”

Cohen scored on a layup off a long pass from Emilio Gonzalez to give the Dons a 13-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter turned into a whistle-fest as Santa Barbara struggled with a case of happy feet. With the numerous turnovers (16 in the first half, 28 for the game), the Dons managed to score just three points. They were fortunate Buena couldn’t capitalize and kept the lead at 16-12 going into halftime.

“We were trying to get this group to settle down,” Santa Barbara coach David Bregante said of the inordinate amount of traveling calls. “We’re going faster than we can play. I don’t know why we’re doing that. We don’t do it in practice. But, in the game the referee shows up and we get too excited.

“We need to settle down and have some success. These kids, we need to teach them how to win. It’s a learning process.”

The Dons were much better with the ball in the second half and jumped on the Bulldogs with three straight layups by Busch to expand the lead to 22-14.

“Andy is tough to guard,” Bregante said. “He’s athletic and he’s got skills.”

Busch said he felt a lot better after getting his ankle taped. He tweaked it early in the second quarter while going for a rebound.

“The first five minutes I didn’t think I was going back in,” He said. “The tape felt really good.”

After Buena’s Enrique Torres scored to make it 24-19, Cohen stepped up and scored back-to-back baskets, the first one off a nice feed from Gonzalez and the second after steal off the press.

Gonzalez followed with a drive on which he was fouled. He missed the free throw but hustled for the rebound and scored to make it 32-19. He finished with a team-high nine rebounds. Busch and Teon West each grabbed seven boards.

Santa Barbara improves to 4-5 on the season while Buena falls to 2-8 and 0-2 in league play.

Santa Barbara 44, Buena 28
Buena — Winslow 3, Payan 14, E. Torres 9, Valdez 2.
Santa Barbara — A. Lopez 3, Fay 2, Busch 14, E. Gonzalez 7, Cohen 16, Mikles 2.

Buena…5 7 9 7 — 28
Santa Barbara…13 3 14 10 — 44

3-point basket—SB: Lopez.


  1. David could be the best coach I ever had.