MBK: Vaqueros surge into SBCC Classic final

SBCC put on a second-half shooting display for the second straight night on Friday, drilling nearly 68 percent in a 96-84 win over College of the Desert that vaulted the Vaqueros into the championship game of the 43rd annual SBCC Classic.

Robert Hutchins led a balanced scoring attack with 16 points and six rebounds. Tejon Williams scored 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds, handed out a season-high nine assists and blocked two shots for the Vaqueros (4-6).

Santa Barbara led 42-40 at intermission, then opened the second half on a 15-4 surge that made it 57-44 with 16:28 to play. William Brown (24 points) hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to seven for the Roadrunners (4-8), then the Vaqueros reeled off 12 in a row and stretched it to 69-50 on a triple by Jerard O’Byrne from the right corner with 12:04 remaining.

“We came out a lot stronger in the second half, we were really attacking,” said Hutchins, a 5-11 freshman guard from Bismarck, N.D. “We started moving the ball and playing more aggressively and that led to our victory.”

Hutchins came to SBCC to be near his father, who retired from the military and is now living in Oxnard.

After entering the tourney with a 64.8 scoring average, the Vaqueros have poured in 94 and 96 points in their first two home games.

SBCC hit 19-28 in the second half (67.9 percent) and held the Roadrunners to 41.2 percent, leading to a 54-44 advantage on the scoreboard. The Vaqueros made 8-14 from beyond the 3-point line in the last 20 minutes and Desert was nearly as effective (7-15).

Martin Pedersen added 14 points on 4-9 shooting from 3-point country while forward Evan Tillman had 13 points, five rebounds, six assists and two blocks. O’Byrne scored 10 off the bench, giving SBCC five players between 10 and 16 points.

Andrew DeLaTorre had seven points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.

The Vaqueros outshot the Jets 47.9 to 40.8 percent and outrebounded them 47-41. Santa Barbara hit 14-of-38 from 3-point country and Desert was 11-28. Brown hit 5-8 from downtown and Gabe Selache had 16 points and six rebounds for the Roadrunners.

SBCC enjoyed its biggest lead (23 points) when Tillman hit two free throws to make it 83-60 with 6:24 to play. Desert made things interesting by going on a 17-0 run to pull within 83-77 on a layup by Brown with just under three minutes to go.

Williams knocked down a 3-pointer from out top, DeLaTorre hit a 6-footer in the lane and Pedersen drained a 3 from the right corner, boosting the Vaquero lead back to 14 points at 91-77.

“They switched their defense a little and it took us a while to get in the flow,” said Hutchins of the Roadrunners’ comeback. “Once we started passing and coach set up a good offense, we started executing well down the stretch.

“We have a lot of guys that can put the ball on the floor and a lot of guys who can shoot it. Moving the ball overall and swinging it to get everyone a shot gets everyone involved.”

The Vaqueros will take on WSC North rival Ventura for the championship on Saturday at 7 p.m. Ventura routed Canada 86-67 in Friday’s final game. SBCC is seeking its ninth Classic title and first since 2006.

In other games on Friday, Palomar edged Oxnard 93-89 and Miramar beat L.A. Valley 73-64 to advance to Saturday’s consolation final at 3 p.m. Desert will play Canada for third place at 5 p.m.