A Who-to-Watch List for high school winter sports season

Santa Barbara High vs Yorba Linda CIF Girls Basketball

Santa Barbara High’s Amber Melgoza returns for her junior season after the Dons won a CIF Championship last season.

 

It was a magical season for the Santa Barbara High girls basketball team in 2013-14. The Dons won their first CIF-Southern Section title in program history, a regional title and finished as a state runner-up.

Coach Andrew Butcher returns several players from that championship squad.

The Presidio Sports winter season Who-to-Watch List starts with those veterans. Leading the way is 5-10 junior forward Amber Melgoza. She tore it up last season, averaging 22 points and 8 rebounds for the season and over 30 points during the Dons’ amazing playoff run. Melgoza is being recruited by several top Division 1 programs.

Melgoza should feel comfortable on the court as Kimberly Gebhardt, Jada Howard, Jocelin Petatan and Liliana Ponce join forces with her again. They played huge roles in Santa Barbara’s success.

The Dons have moved up from 3AA to the 2AA Division this season.

Jordyn Lilly leads Bishop Diego.

Jordyn Lilly leads Bishop Diego.

Another girls basketball dynamo is Bishop Diego senior Jordyn Lilly. She is coming off a super junior season in which she averaged 18 points and 7.3 rebounds and nearly three assists, leading the Cardinals to the CIF quarterfinals. Hannah Rogers, the team’s leading rebounder, is also back.

Dos Pueblos’ Hallie Magee has raised the level of her game for her senior season. Athletic freshman in Amber Belletti figures to make an immediate impact.

Carpinteria played several freshmen last season and they helped the team make the playoffs. Leading the way is point guard Tori Kelley. She earned first-team All-Frontier League honors. Harmony Reed was last year’s leading rebounder and a second-team all-league selection as a freshman. Junior Maddie Clark returns after earning Most Improved Player honors and Sierra Diaz figures to add scoring punch after a MVP season with the junior varsity.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Santa Barbara has 3-point bomber Bolden Brace back for his junior year. The 6-5 Brace provided a spark off the bench last season with his long-range shooting. He finished as the team’s fourth leading scorer with a 9.9 average. Andrew Fay and Chris Wagonhurst bring experience to the backcourt. They were key in Santa Barbara’s run to the Channel League title and CIF 3A semifinals last season. Ben Clay brings a toughness in the post area. The Dons added size in the post with 6-6 Nick Busch, a transfer from Bishop Diego.

Bolden Brace - Santa Barbara High Dons

Santa Barbara High’s Bolden Brace is deadly from 3-point range.

San Marcos will be counting on veteran players Tyson Miller, Scott Everman, Connor Everman and Kele Mkpado. Junior Ryan McCarthy is expected to be an impact player.

Dos Pueblos is young and inexperienced, but the Chargers have a presence in the post in senior Nick Ditmeijer and a crafty point guard in junior Jayson Williams.

Carpinteria has a slick, quick backcourt duo senior Omar Miranda and junior Rayshaun Moore.

Providence has high-scoring forward Matthew Eaton back for his senior season. He averaged 16 points last year.

BOYS SOCCER

Year after year, Santa Barbara produces outstanding players. This season is no exception. Brandon Sanchez is the marquee guy for the Dons. Only a junior, the center midfielder is coming off a season in which he earned All-Channel League first–team and All-CIF third-team honors. He’s been a starter on a Santa Barbara Soccer Club team that’s played in three straight U.S. Youth Soccer final fours and has won back-to-back national titles.

The Dons have a standout goalkeeper in senior Robert Soto. He was named the Golden Glove winner at the U.S. Youth Soccer nationals this summer, helping the Santa Barbara Soccer Club win the Under-18 boys national title.

Senior Tim Heiduk is standout all-around player for Dos Pueblos. The Westmont-bound Heiduk also played for the Santa Barbara Soccer Club teams that won back-to-back national titles and reached the semifinals last summer. Jessie Jimenez is a dangerous attacking player for the Chargers.

Carpinteria returns the core of its team with Francisco Arroyo, Victor Saldaña, Benjie Garcia, Pablo Alvarez, Diego Contreras, Cristian Chacon, Eric Contreras and goalkeeper Edward Delgado. Arroyo and Saldaña are the team captains.

Midfielder/forward Geoffrey Acheampong is a four-year standout at Cate. The UCSB-bound Acheampong is blessed with great speed, skill and savvy. The Rams a pair of solid veterans in Joel Serugo and goalkeeper Keller Mochel.

GIRLS SOCCER

San Marcos returns a pair of All-CIF players in Kaitlyn Saperstein (first team) and Olivia Jones (honorable mention). Coach Macie Berlin says Jones has come into her prime is expecting big things for the junior.

San Marcos girls soccer vs. Santa Barbara High

San Marcos’ girls varsity celebrates a goal by Kaitlyn Saperstein (10).

Saperstein was the leading goal scorer last season for the Royals. Her versatility makes her a dangerous player on the field. A freshman coach Berlin is excited about is Cate Clancy.

Jill Wolf takes over the coaching duties at Santa Barbara High, and she has several experienced players she can count on.

Starting in the back, senior Erin Graf will anchor the defense. She’ll be joined by fellow seniors Natalie Cvitanic and Stephanie Rodriguez and junior Julie Pitney. Juniors Bailey Wolf and Kylie Schmidt, and senior Ross will handle the midfield duties. Alea Hyatt, coming off a solid freshman season on varsity, is being counted on to lead the offense.

Dos Pueblos has a trio of veteran attacking players in Malia Morales, Ady Willett and Kiara Pickett. The sophomore Pickett is a talented midfielder who is already drawing interest from colleges. Morales, a junior, is a team leader and a great distributor of the ball. The speedy Willet has a nose for the goal. The senior forward was the Chargers’ leading goal scorer last season. Another key player is senior Angela Penza, a speedy central defender and team captain.

Four-year veterans Kelsie Bryant and Alexa Benitez lead an experienced Carpinteria squad. Bryant runs the attack and is the free-kick specialist for the Warriors. Benitez is tireless worker. She has an innate ability to read her opponent and either strip them clean of the ball or bait them into an unwarranted pass, said coach Charles Bryant.

Lesly Zapata, another four-year multisport athlete, provides a spark on the field.

Laguna Blanca has an experienced squad, led by senior captain Bryn Jewett. Maddie Bonser, a four-year player, is potent attacking force, junior Siena Speirs posseses a nice touch in the midfield and junior winger Phoebe Madsen brings speed and tenacity. Coach Kevin Shertzer says freshman Kelly Bickett has made an immediate impact in the midfield.

WRESTLING

Dos Pueblos has a senior-laden squad, led by two-time Channel League champion and Masters Meet qualifier Cameron Cox. Jeff Uyesaka, a CIF division place finisher last season, is another standout returnee to the squad.

The Chargers have a big home schedule this season. In addition of facing league rivals Ventura and Buena in dual meets at Sovine Gym, they’ll host the CIF Team Duals.

Santa Barbara High has a returning CIF competitor in Augusto Cisneros, the league runner-up last season at 220 pounds.

GIRLS WATER POLO

San Marcos is loaded with veteran players, led by UC Irvine-bound goalie Jenna Phreaner. She was an All-CIF first-team selection last season.

Jenna Phreaner - San Marcos Water Polo

San Marcos goaltender Jenna Phreaner

Three other returning seniors are Megan Bergthold, Riley Heiduk and Kelsey Gellert. They’re all college bound. Gellert signed with Concordia University, Bergthold is headed to Wheaton on a swimming scholarship and Heiduk is going to UC San Diego. Heiduk, a first-team all-league pick last year, is coming off a big summer in which she earned All-American honors in club water polo.

Sophomore Paige Hauschild leads a solid group of underclassmen. She led the team in scoring as a freshman and earned All-CIF honors. She played on a USA Water Polo national youth team over the summer. Katie Coski, Hailey Gellert and Brittany Prentice are coming off seasons where they received all-league recognition.

Dos Pueblos has two returning all-league players in senior Jordan Williams and sophomore Toni Shackelford. Williams, who recently signed with Sonona State, is the team’s best outside shooter and the team captain. Shackelford is the team’s best overall utility player, says coach Chris Parrish. “She is a great passer with tremendous vision.”

A new player who is expected to make an immediate impact is Ryann Neushul. She is the little sister of former DP stars and CIF champions Kiley and Jamie, who are now both at Stanford.

“She is going to add a whole different dimension to the team this year with her tenacity and scoring ability,” said Parrish.

Senior goalie Siena Goggia leads the Santa Barbara Dons. Goggia developed into an outstanding shot blocker last season. She’s signed to continue her career at Concordia University in Irvine.

The Dons return two starters from last year’s CIF semifinal team: Jessie Brummett and Kristina Garcia. Both were All-CIF first-team selections. Also back is Jessee Ransone, who was the first player off the bench last season as a sophomore.

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