Double bills at Westmont worth the price of admission

Westmont men's basketball coach John Moore, left, with Athlete of the Week Preston Branson, right.

Talking about the exciting basketball being playing at Westmont College this season, Warriors men’s coach John Moore harkened back to the days when movie theaters showed double features for the price of one.

“We used to have doubleheaders at movie theaters, where you get to see a twin bill,” Moore recalled at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Cafe. “Well, it’s great to come to Westmont these days because you can see a great twin bill. You’ll see a phenomenal women’s team play and see a men’s team scratch and claw and try to look as good as the women’s team right now. They warm up the gym for us.”

The Warrior teams have been providing plenty of thrills this season. They’re both in first place in the Golden State Athletic Conference and ranked in the NAIA national polls.

Preston Branson has been the leading man for the No. 12 Westmont men’s team. The junior from Texas poured in 35 points on 12-of-14 shooting from the field in 90-85 win over No. 6-ranked Concordia in Irvine. It ended a 10-game losing streak against the Eagles.

“He’s an incredible competitor,” Moore said of Branson. “What you want more than anything on your team is you want a guy who plays best when it’s the most important.”

Moore said Branson’s Texas roots make him special.

“He’s a Texan and he plays like most Texans do — they really believe their state is where we all come from. They play the game with a great deal of heart,” said Moore.

Westmont women’s coach Kirsten Moore said she’s impressed with the men’s team.

“Our men’s team is playing better than I’ve ever seen in my seven years at Westmont,” she said. “A lot of it is due to this guy here, Preston, but a lot really has to do with their teamwork and the enthusiasm at what they’re doing, and their competitiveness.”

Kristen Moore’s team also is playing at a high level. Last week, the fourth-ranked Warriors gutted out a two-point win over Master’s at home and then won at Concordia.

She pointed out the Westmont teams travel together for road games and neither have suffered a loss.

“So far, when we travel together we’re undefeated on the road this year. The plan is to keep that going,” said Kirsten Moore.

Rich Hanna, Santa Barbara Round Table president, suggested that any local team that is struggling might want to get on the bus with the Westmont basketball teams.

UCSB men’s basketball team was on the TV screen on Saturday against Long Beach, and assistant coach David Campbell hoped not many people tuned in to watch the game.

The Gauchos were routed 71-48 by the 49ers.

“We didn’t play very well from the get-go,” said Campbell. “The thing that was disheartening was we had a great crowd. The game was sold out, 6,000 people in the stands. You got to give Long Beach credit, they played really well.”

The Gauchos hit the road for seven of their next eight games.

“We’re still confident in our guys,” Campbell said. “We still have a shot to win the Big West.”

Coming off an double-overtime win at Big West-leading Cal State Northridge, UCSB women’s assistant Courtney Locke encouraged fans to come out to the Gauchos’ home against against UC Davis (Thursday) and Pacific (Saturday) this week.

In high school basketball, Bishop Diego girls coach Jeff Burich said an example of how much his team’s improved was evident in a recent Tri-Valley League game against St. Bonaventure. In December, the Cardinals trailed the Seraphs by 31 at halftime, and last week they were down by only one.

“We saw improvement with the kids,” said Burich, who brought sophomore post player Colleen Duley and junior spark plug Michelle Garcia.

Bishop Diego boys assistant coach Patrick Davis introduced seniors Reese Moulton and Nolan Tisdale as two players who have helped the team start league play on a good note. Tisdale is one of the team’s best 3-pointer shooters and Moulton is the leading rebounder.

Davis also noted that the future looks bright for Bishop basketball as his JV team is 16-0.

Devin Uyesaka is going through a tough first year as the girls varsity coach at San Marcos.

“We’ve had a lot of injuries and sickness,” he said. “There are times we’ve had five to six girls at practice, so it’s hard to beat teams.”

Speaking for boys coach Jarrod Bradley, Uyesaka said the Royals have a big game Wednesday at Santa Barbara. The teams will be playing for sole possession of second place in the Channel League.

Kim Kjar, speaking for Santa Barbara boys basketball coach David Bregante, said the Dons have turned things around with the help of players like Teon West and Emilio Gonzalez.

“We’re 10-8 and 4-2 in league, and we haven’t been in that position in a few years,” Kjar said. “We’re looking tow make a push for the playoffs this year.”

Longtime Santa Barbara girls coach Andrew Butcher said his team has been struggling as of late, but he’s been pleased with the improved play of Amanda Temporal, Alyssa Cosio and Michalia Miller.

Butcher noted that the Dons will be hosting their “Think Pink” game on Saturday against Rio Mesa at 4:30. Rio Mesa won the Green Division title at the Tournament of Champions in December.

Steven Krouskopf was honored as the Special Olympics Athlete of the Month for his performance in floor hockey. Krouskopf helpd his team win the gold medal at a tournament in Irvine.

Several high school soccer coaches were in attendance.

Alfredo Martinez, longtime Santa Barbara boys assistant, said the Dons didn’t have any expectations at the start of the season, but it kept the same goals of posting 15 shutouts, 20 wins and winning the Channel League.

The Dons are 13-4-4 with 12 shutouts and finished the first round of Channel League play in first place. They’re also ranked fifth in CIF Division 1.

Martinez introduced senior team captains Alberto Hernandez and Tanner Wolf.

Santa Barbara girls assistant Brian Zieganhagen said he’s looking forward to better things from the team in the second half of the league season.

“We’re expecting a little bit more from the players, coaching staff and the mentality of the school,” he said.

Ziegenhagen introduced team captain Karly Graf. “She’s one of the leaders to keep the team together,” he said.

San Marcos coach Christy Lozano said her team has played better than its 0-2-2 record in Channel League play.

Lozano said defenders Kaylin Koopmans and Ashley Carney have played solid in the back for the Royals, who open the second round of league play at home Tuesday against Dos Pueblos at 6 p.m.

Brent Gonsalves noted Bishop Diego’s record of 9-4-2 is evidence that the team has made great strides.

The team posted two wins last week after losing two in a row the week before.

“One of things I dislike about high school soccer sometimes is having Christmas break,” said Gonsalves, referring to the two losses after the holidays. “Coming back from break, we weren’t as sharp as we were before break.”

Gonsalves brought his team captains Catriona Reddington and Jordan Price.

“We’re looking to continue our successful run and position ourselves to get in the playoffs this year,” he said.

Carpinteria’s girls have visions of making the playoffs. Lucy Carleton’s young team is unbeaten in league and tied for first place.

Carleton introduced two freshmen who have made a big impact on the squad, Monica Garcia and Lesly Zapata, and senior goalkeeper Tania Arroyo. Garcia is the team’s leading scorer.

“We have a very fine freshman class,” Carleton said. “The only other time I had this many freshman on varsity was in our championship year in 2008. That would be a good sign.”

Carleton also introduced Ricky Zerreno from the boys soccer team. She cited his hard work on the field and in the classroom.

Dos Pueblos boys coach Matt York said his team is starting to come together after some early season injuries

“Our season has been a challenging one for us so far,” he said. “The expectations were high because we’re coming off two years where we went deep in the playoffs and we were hoping to continue that ride this year.”

The Chargers ended the first round of league play by rallying from two goals down and tying Buena 2-2.

York brought Scott Terry, who scored both goals against Buena, and defender Oscar Escamilla.

The Chargers return to action Thursday at home against San Marcos.

Special Olympics Athlete of the Month: Steven Krouskopf received the award for his play in floor hockey.

Krouskopf, who works at the Vons in Montecito, has played several sports in his 10 years in Special Olympics, and floor hockey is his favorite, said Round Table board member Aaron Brown.

Krouskopf’s coach, Jaime Rutiaga, called the athlete “a class act out there. Floor hockey, as you know, can be a very aggressive sport,” he said.

A left winger, Krouskopf scored a hat trick at a tournament in Irvine and helped Santa Barbara capture the gold medal at a second Irvine tournament.