BBK: Dons grind out a win at San Marcos, 56-48

Rivalry basketball games sometimes require hard hats.

Santa Barbara showed it can be effective playing a blue-collar, grind-it-out game Wednesday night at San Marcos. The Dons buckled down and contained the Royals guards and put together a balanced scoring attack to earn a 56-48 victory at a jam-packed Thunderhut.

With the win, Santa Barbara completed the first round of Channel League play at 4-0. The Dons are 14-2 overall and ranked third in CIF Division 3A. San Marcos, No. 13 in 3AA, fell to 1-3 in league and 12-6 overall.

Senior guard Noah Burke and senior forward Jack Baker each scored 14 points, Isaiah Tapia added 11, nine on three long 3-pointers, and Chris Wagonhurst came off the bench to score nine points to pace the Dons.

Jack Baker of Santa Barbara shoots a jumper over Scott Everman of San Marcos. (Cummingsproductions.com)

Jack Baker of Santa Barbara shoots a jumper over Scott Everman of San Marcos. (Cummingsproductions.com)

Bryce Ridenour, looking stronger after being slowed by a case of bronchitis, scored 20 points to lead the Royals. Elijah Johnson added 10 points.

“It’s hard to play in this gym,” said Santa Barbara coach David Bregante, who’s won in his last two meetings at San Marcos. “Even the Lakers would have trouble winning in here.”

Santa Barbara trailed 13-11 after the first quarter. Baker tied the game at 13-all and Tapia followed with a long 3-pointer for a 16-13 lead. The Dons then went on a 12-2 run to take 28-17 advantage. The scoring spurt came after Ridenour and the Dons’ Bolden Brace collided heads while going after a loose ball. Both players went to the ground in pain. Ridenour was bloodied while Brace suffered a knock under his left eye. They both left the game and later returned.

A San Marcos student in the student section also collapsed on the gym floor as the players were being treated. The student came to and was led out of the hot gym.

Play continued after the collision and Kele Mkpado scored for San Marcos to make it a 16-15 game.

Santa Barbara came right with Burke scoring after a nifty pass from forward David Trujillo. Wagonhurst then stole the ball and scored on a layup for a 20-15 lead. Johnson converted a follow shot for San Marcos before the Dons scored the next eight points. Wagonhurst fed Baker and hit a pull-up jumper, Trujillo scored on a power move inside and Burke knocked down two free throws.

San Marcos coach Dave Odell said the loss of Ridenour during that stretch made a huge difference.

“When he didn’t play for about five minutes, we lost 18-9 in the second. That was the quarter we lost the game in,” said Odell.

Trujillo and Wagonhurst were instrumental in the Dons winning the game. Trujillo executed his role to perfection. He grabbed eight rebounds, played tough defense and dished out three assists.

Isaiah Tapia drives to the hoop for Santa Barbara. (Cummingsproductions.com)

Isaiah Tapia drives to the hoop for Santa Barbara. (Cummingsproductions.com)

“He’s our hard hat,” Bregante said. “He gives us strength, which we are sorely lacking. David just does a great job for us in a lot different ways.”

Wagonhurst scored off a Trujillo assist for a 41-33 lead in the fourth quarter and later hit a 3-pointer to put the Dons ahead 46-39.

“Chris is playing really well for us,” Bregante said. “He’s a big-time player and he makes big plays in big moments and continues to do it. We have an advantage when we put him; he makes us better.”

Baker scored after his own miss to put the Dons up by nine, 48-39. But San Marcos came clawing back. Ridenour made a couple of free throws and Tyson Miller buried a 3-pointer to make it 48-44.

Santa Barbara kept its poise down the stretch. Baker fought his way inside for a bucket and Tapia and Burke each made two free throw to go up 54-44.

“It’s amazing,” Burke said of finishing the first round at 4-0 with a win at San Marcos. “We really worked hard for this moment. Our coaches told us what we had to do and we came out and executed. And we all got it done together – teamwork.”

Odell said breakdowns in execution hurt his team.

“We had a game plan that was only marginally effective. It was marginally effective because we didn’t execute it like we wanted to,” he said. “We did a pretty good job in spells.”

He added that his team was hurt by too many unforced errors.

Bregante credited San Marcos for taking away his team’s running game and praised Ridenour for his solid play.

“(The game) wasn’t real pretty, but sometimes you got to play that way,” he said.

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