Baker scores 26 to carry Dons past Oxnard

Oxnard threw all kinds of defenses at Santa Barbara High in Friday night’s non-league basketball game at J.R. Richards Gym. But whatever the Yellowjackets tried, it didn’t work in slowing down the Dons’ Jack Baker.

Baker took full advantage of his height against a smaller opponent and poured in 26 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked two shots in leading Santa Barbara to a 65-49 victory.

Baker was a force inside, making 10 of 12 shots. But it wasn’t just his scoring that impressed everyone. The 6-5 junior did a good job of running the floor and going to basket along the baseline to put himself in positions where his teammates could find him for high percentage shots.

There was a sequence early in the third quarter when Baker took over the game. It started with guard Matt Wagonhurst spotting Baker flying up the right side and throwing an alley-oop pass that the forward finished. The next time down the court, Baker was fouled and sank two free throws. The Dons then stole the ball and Emilio Gonzalez fed him for another easy basket, which boosted the lead to 35-23.

“He was phenomenal,” Santa Barbara coach David Bregante said. “Bottom line, he just carried on us back.”

Baker said he was determined to play better than he did in the Dons’ season opener at Fillmore.

“The last game I felt I could have done better,” he said. “This game, I gave it 100 percent. If you keep going hard, good results will happen.”

Santa Barbara did well in finding the open man for good shots. The Dons finished with 17 assists, led by Gonzalez’ five. Jeff Paschke had four assists. They also dominated the boards outrebounding the Yellowjackets 39-15.

Santa Barbara struggled at the beginning of game against Oxnard’s half-court trapping defense and fell behind 8-0.

The Dons settled down and Baker pulled them to within two (20-18) when he caught a missed runner by Isaiah Tapia and laid it in. Gonzalez followed with a 17-foot jumper to tie the score at 20-20 with 4:35 to go in the second quarter.

After Santa Barbara’s defense forced a shot-clock violation by Oxnard, Baker scored on an offensive rebound to put the Dons ahead for good at 22-20. He scored eight points in the second quarter to rally the team from a 16-9 first-quarter deficit to a 26-23 lead at halftime.

The lead expanded to 14 points in the third quarter when Noah Burke drove to the basket and made a slick pass to Nicky Von Weisenberger for a basket.

Oxnard scored the last three points of the third quarter and the Yellowjackets’ Daniel Crocker sparked a 5-0 run at start of the fourth, cutting the deficit to four at 47-43.

The Dons responded by scoring the next five points. Shawn Ramos fed Gonzalez for a basket and Burke followed with a 3-pointer.

Crocker scored for Oxnard and then Baker took over again. He followed a miss by Gonzalez and scored two more baskets off Gonzalez assists, putting the Dons ahead 58-47.

Gonzalez finished with 10 points for the Dons, who improve to 2-0.

Crocker scored 22 points for Oxnard, which was playing its season opener.

OXNARD — Golshani 2, Garcia 4, Kirkham 5, Villanueva 4, Crocker 22, Nicoll 5, Rodriguez 5, Martinez 2.

SANTA BARBARA — Ramos 1, Paschke 3, Day 7, Von Weisenberger 2, Wagonhurst 2, Fay 5, Burke 7, Baker 26, Gonzalez 10.

Oxnard …16 7 13 13 — 49
Santa Barbara…9 17 21 16 — 63

3-point goals—O 4: Nicoll, Crocker, Rodriguez, Kirkham. SB 1: Burke