Holiday Classic: Newbury Park beats Dons for title

Newbury Park clamped down on Santa Barbara High’s 3-point shooters and rallied from a 15-point first-quarter deficit to beat the Dons, 65-56, in the championship game of their Holiday Classic on Tuesday at J.R. Richards Gym.

The Panthers outscored Santa Barbara 36-16 in the second half to claim their first tournament title of the preseason. They finished second at St. Monica and third in the Canyon tournament. Tyler Cartaino, a 6-5 multi-dimensional player, scored 26 points to lead his team and earn Holiday Classic MVP honors. Sam Jennings had nine points and Kevin Russell scored eight.

Santa Barbara was on fire in the first half, sinking 8 of 13 shots from beyond the 3-point arc. Isaiah “Rat” Tapia hit a pair of treys and Chris Wagonhurst sank another during 13-0 run in the first quarter to give the Dons a 23-8 lead.

“They were red hot shooting the basketball in the first half,” Newbury Park coach Mike Dulaney said. “We made a few adjustments, some slight shifts in our coverage and we held them to 16 points in the second half. That was our whole M.O. in the second half.”

Santa Barbara made just two three-pointers in the second half.

Down 40-29 at halftime, Newbury Park came out strong in the third quarter, outscoring Santa Barbara 12-2 to pull to within one point, 42-41, at the 3:47 mark. The Panthers took the lead (48-47) for good on a dunk by Cartaino at the end of the third quarter. The dunk came after Santa Barbara missed a layup off a lob pass.

The Panthers (11-3) carried their momentum into the fourth quarter. Russell hit a three to start the quarter and Spencer Netka scored inside to make it 53-47.

“We stick with our system,” DuLaney said when asked if the Panthers changed their offense in the second half. “We like our system and we weren’t getting good shots in the first half. They were crowding us. We made a couple adjustments but we stuck within ourselves and it paid off in the end.”

Santa Barbara, meanwhile, struggled to get anything going at the offensive end in the second half.

“We need to work on executing our offense,” Dons coach David Bregante said. “We have to have other options instead of just shooting threes. What they did, they recognized at halftime that we had eight threes, and I told the kids at halftime what they’re talking about is taking away the 3-point shot. They’re not going to let us sit out there and shoot the ball. They’re not stupid.

“We, right now, are a one-dimensional team,” he added. “If we’re not shooting threes well, we have trouble scoring.”

Noah Burke led the Dons with 13 points, while Tapia and Bolden Brace each scored 11 points. Jack Baker added nine points and Wagonhurst chipped in eight.

The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Dons (11-2).

“I think it’s a good learning experience,” Bregante said. “I think if you’re going to lose a game, now is the time to do it. We’ll learn and grow and try to work on the things we need to improve on and go from there.”

In the fifth-place game, Bishop Diego’s Will Busch scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half, leading the Cardinals to a 50-39 win. Peter Kwock added 10 points in the Cardinals’ third win over the Warriors this season.

Duncan Gordon scored 15 points for Carpinteria.