SBART Luncheon: McCutcheon expresses joy on being in Santa Barbara

UCSB  Director of Athletics John McCutcheon with predecessor Gary Cunningham.

UCSB Director of Athletics John McCutcheon with predecessor Gary Cunningham.

On his first day on the job as UCSB’s Director of Athletics, John McCutcheon stopped by Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Luncheon with Gary Cunningham, the man who previously held the position.

Westmont women’s basketball coach Kirsten Moore offered a warm welcome to McCutcheon and gave him props for bringing much needed rain to the area.

“On your first day, if you can make it rain like this and you can keep it going, this community is going to love you,” said Moore.

McCutcheon said when he and his wife left Amherst, Mass., where he’d been athletic director at the University of Massachusetts for the past 10 years, the temperature was minus-18 degrees without a wind chill.

“We had about three feet of snow in the front yard,” he said. “I said good-bye to my snow blower for hopefully the last time. I’m happy not to have to do that anymore.”

On his new job, McCutcheon said: “We know we have a lot to do here. UCSB has a fantastic program. We are extremely excited to be given this opportunity to lead it going forward.”

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Bishop Diego: Coach Jeff Burich said he was getting congratulatory messages late into the night Saturday after his Cardinals earned a spot in the CIF Division 5A finals with a 39-31 semifinal win at Thacher.

“I got text messages up to 11:30, which is OK because I still have the midnight diaper changing (responsibility), and sometime at 3 a.m. It’s alright; I don’t mind it.”

The Cardinals play top-seeded Bloomington Christian in the championship game on Saturday at Godinez High in Santa Ana.

Coach Jeff Burich, and players Jordyn Lilly and K'lei Martinez of the CIF Finals-bound Bishop Diego girls basketball team.

Coach Jeff Burich, and players Jordyn Lilly and K’lei Martinez of the CIF Finals-bound Bishop Diego girls basketball team.

Burich said sophomore K’lei Martinez provided a “nice spark off the bench” in the team’s quarterfinal win at Pacifica Christian.

On leading scorer Jordyn Lilly, who had 21 points in the semifinal win at Thacher, Burich said her calmness on the court helps the team stay focused. “That’s the leadership she brings,” he said.

Burich said Bloomington Christian is basically a club team from the eighth grade that moved up to high school.

Santa Barbara High: Assistant coach Jess Martinez said the Dons are happy to finally play at home after two long road trips in the CIF Division 2AA playoffs. They traveled to Chino and Fontana last week.
“We lost a lot of (coin) flips this year. We finally won one,” Martinez said.

The Dons will play top-seeded Redondo Union in the semifinals on Wednesday night.

In the quarterfinal win against Summit, Amber Melgoza scored a school-record 50 points in an 89-76 win. Martinez said Melgoza took a beating in the game. “At times, I thought Amber was part of the WWE. She was getting knocked down and double teamed.”

The Dons figure to be in for another physical game when they play Redondo Union.

“They’re 25th in the state and we’re just below them at 30th. The only problem is they’re 6-2, 6-1, 5-10, 5-10, 5-10,” Martinez said. “I guess we’re going to play among the trees. But we’re used to that. I hope we can use our speed to neutralize it.”

Martinez introduced Alejandra Mejia and said she came in the fourth quarter against Summit and drew charging fouls against two of their best players and grabbed a key rebound.

He also brought Jocelin Petatan who contributed 19 points, five assists and four rebounds. “She was all over the court,” Martinez said.

On Melgoza, “What can you say; it’s been told many times,” Martinez said. “The beautiful about this is we knew she was going to be double teamed, and she always found somebody open.

“All the points that Amber has gotten this year are a lot on her own ability but also because of contributions from the other athletes on the team,” he added. “There is tremendous unity there. If our success is because of who we are, it’s because we are a team.”

BOYS TENNIS

Dos Pueblos: Coach Liz Frech said the Chargers are in a rebuilding year after losing seven players to graduation. They do have two returning players who formed a Channel League-champion doubles team last year, senior Patrick “Beast” Corpuz and sophomore Miles “Little Beast” Baldwin.

“They are our two captains who follow our team motto: hard work, humility and humor. And, they promote teamwork, community service and unity,” said Frech.

Allison Golledge, Jake Nelson and Pete Kirkwood are assisting Frech this season.

COLLEGE BASEBALL

SBCC: Coach Jeff Walker said there was a great turnout at the SBCC diamond at Pershing Park on Saturday to celebrate the life of former Vaquero and San Marcos High baseball star Gary Woods.

“It shows what a powerful impact he had in the community. He’ll truly be missed,” said Walker.

Woods died of an apparent heart attack.

Westmont: Coach Robert Ruiz said the Warriors have already played 23 games and they are 16-7 after losing two of three at The Master’s last weekend.

Ruiz thanked local coaches for volunteering their time and sharing their expertise at a clinic for area youth coaches. He cited UCSB assistant Matt Harvey, Santa Barbara head coach Fred Warrecker and SBCC pitching coach Justin Aspergen for making it a successful event.

“It was a great event. It says something about the community of baseball coaches. I’m really proud to be a part of that,” said Ruiz.

PREP BASEBALL

Santa Barbara High: Assistant coach George Rempe said seniors Daniel McKinney, Cristian Loza and Marcus Tmur will be an important part of the team’s success this season.

McKinney, the right fielder, is the most powerful hitter on the team, Rempe said. Loza, the starting catcher, will have the responsibility of handling a strong Dons pitching staff. He’s also a second-generation Dons baseball player. Rempe called Tmur the team’s Jack of all trades. He pitched three innings on Santa Barbara’s 7-0 season-opening win, striking out four and didn’t allow a walk.

The Dons are scheduled to play their home opener Tuesday against Lompoc.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Westmont women: The Warriors finished the regular season with wins over Hope International and Biola.

Coach Kirsten Moore said the wins all but secured a NAIA national tournament berth for the Warriors

But before that, Westmont plays in the GSAC Tournament. It hosts Hope International in a first-round game on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Westmont Men: Coach John Moore likes how his team is playing as it enters the postseason.

“We made a specific effort to be great late,” he said. “We came into January at 7-6 and from that point forward we’ve gone 13-3. We’ve made a vast improvement in how we played in league.

“We were better in January than we were in December, we were better in February than we were in January. Now we get to go into March. The best time in basketball is in March. We look forward to doing really well

The Warriors open the GSAC Tournament on Thursday at home against The Master’s.

UCSB Women:
Assistant coach Matt Schiff said the Gauchos need to win their last two games against Hawaii and Cal Poly to get in the Big West Tournament.

UCSB plays Hawaii on Thursday in its last home game and closes out the regular season at Cal Poly on Saturday.

“We have a lot to play for these next two games,” he said.

PREP SWIMMING

Dos Pueblos: Retired coach Jim Ranta said the Charger boys return three outstanding swimmers who were part of a 200 medley relay team that came within a second of a national record. They are Alex Valente, Walker Bell and Blake Parrish.

On the girls side, 2014 CIF qualifiers Reagan Eickert and Courtney Nuttall are back.

The swim season begins Friday with the Channel League Relays at Santa Barbara High.

Ranta said the Chargers will host a diving invitational on April 11.

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