Playoffs on tap for local high schools

Dos Pueblos soccer players from L to R: Julio Rubio, Kelvin Mendoza, Misty Soto, and Brandie Harris. (Presidio Sports Photos)

Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon set the table for an important week as many of the area’s high school teams begin CIF play in the coming days.

In other words, it’s do-or-die time, and coaches spent much of their time at the podium sizing up their postseason chances while also retelling some of the performances that got them there.

Santa Barbara High’s Emilio Gonzalez and Betsy Hendrix were named Athletes of the Week for big-time performances that sent their respective teams into the postseason on a high note.

Gonzalez led the Dons’ boys basketball team to an upset win of Ventura on Thursday by scoring a team-high 22 points. The victory snapped Ventura’s 23-game winning streak in the Channel League.

“He just was a monster. He did everything,” said Dons head coach David Bregante about Gonzalez, a junior. “He rebounded, he scored, he defended. He did everything a coach asks a player to do.”

Emilio Gonzalez

Betsy Hendrix

Hendrix was a force in the Dons’ 8-7 girls water polo triumph over Dos Pueblos last week. The result led to a split of the Channel League title for Santa Barbara, which it hadn’t won since 2007. Hendrix scored a team-high three times, including the game-winning goal, and added an assist in the game.

The Dons are seeded sixth in Division 1 and open CIF at home on Wednesday against Edison. Santa Barbara is confident, having beaten just about every team in Division I already this season.

“I think we have it in us, we just have to make it happen now,” said head coach Mark Walsh.

While the basketball and water polo teams learned of their draws on Sunday, the soccer teams learned of their draws on Monday. The brackets were unveiled by the CIF office during the lunch hour, and some learned of their first-round opponent while at the luncheon.

“We just found out on our smart phones that the girls, they are going to play Royal on Friday so they’re excited about that,” said Dos Pueblos boys coach Matt York, who was reporting for girls head coach Pato Guerrero.

San Marcos junior Caroline Vance is a big reason why the Royals are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Teammate Carly Yarnell was also in attendence at Harry's on Monday.

On hand representing the Chargers’ soccer program was Kelvin Mendoza, Julio Rubio, Brandie Harris and Misty Soto.

Carpinteria head coach Lucy Carleton, who brought players Erin Durflinger and Kelsie Bryant, didn’t have a smart phone but was anxious to see who her Warriors would be opening up against this week.

“I look forward to being in the playoffs with these girls because the last time we were in the playoffs was 2008,” Carleton said.

San Marcos’ boys soccer team has experienced a similar postseason drought but will be competing this year after a late-season surge left the Royals in second place in the Channel League. Head coach Matt Winecki didn’t want to elaborate too much on the accomplishment.

“You’re only as good as your last match so hope you tell the boys that. Congratulations and keep up all the good work,” Winecki said.

The Royals’ girls soccer team also made playoffs, as did their girls water polo team and boys basketball team.

Jarrod Bradley’s basketball team is looking to make a deep run in Division 3-AA. The Royals are the second seed in the bracket and picked up a favorable draw starting with a home game on Wednesday against a team that has lost 13-straight.

“We are looking forward to a spirited student-section in our gym and also getting after it,” said San Marcos head coach Jarrod Bradley. “Draw-wise, we’re really happy with where we are in the draw, but obviously you have to show up and play.”

Thayer White and Ian Douglas accompanied Bradley to the luncheon.

While the high school teams are gearing up for playoffs, the local college basketball teams are still in the thick of their conference seasons. Both of Westmont’s teams are in first place in the Golden State Athletic League, and the UCSB men’s and women’s teams went 3-0 last week. UCSB’s Jaime Serna and Kirsten Tilleman, and Westmont’s Tugce Canitez, were honorable mentions as Athletes of the Week.

“It’s the stretch run, we’re getting ready,” said UCSB assistant men’s coach David Campbell, whose team plays its next three on the road before returning home for three games to wrap up the regular season.

Warriors head coach John Moore was still thinking about last week. Moore took a moment to recognize Rath Shelton, a SBART Hall-of-Fame member who passed away 10 days ago. Moore then compared his team’s just-finished week to the Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries marriage that was celebrated last summer near Westmont’s Montecito campus. The Warriors were in love with themselves after a strong win over rival Biola on Wednesday but everything came apart on Saturday when the Warriors lost to Hope International for the first time in school history.

Both of Westmont’s first-place teams have four GSAC games remaining before the conference tournament.

More information regarding local high school teams competing in CIF, CLICK HERE.

The next SBART press luncheon is next Monday at Harry’s Plaza Cafe starting at 1 p.m.