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Week in Sports: Breakers Host Final Four at San Marcos


The defending champion Santa Barbara Breakers and three teams eager to unseat them constitute the Final Four of the West Coast Pro Basketball League playoffs this weekend at the San Marcos High gym.

In Saturday’s (June 13) semifinals, the Newport Beach Surf (10-5) will face the Orange County Gladiators (8-7) at 5 p.m., and Santa Barbara (12-3) will take on the Ventura County Jets (8-7) at 7:05 p.m. The winners will square off at 2 p.m. Sunday for the championship.

The Breakers went 18-0 last year in winning the inaugural WCPBL title, but this season their sense of invincibility was shattered. They suffered their first defeat in early May at Ventura, and on two other occasions they lost on their home court, to Newport Beach and, last Saturday, to the Pasadena Slam.

The Jets overcame a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Slam 123-121 in the first round of the playoffs this week. Orange County defeated the Hollywood Jammers. Santa Barbara and Newport Beach had byes into the semis.

The Breakers will try to repeat without the services of Josh Merrill, last season’s league MVP. The 6‘9” former UCSB star had a prior commitment this weekend, Breakers coach Curt Pickering said. With Merrill in the lineup, the team had a record of 24-1.

Offsetting the loss of Merrill is the signing of 6‘6” Joel Smith, a former county prep player of the year from Lompoc. Smith, who played college ball at Washington and Chaminade, can play on the perimeter as well as mix it up in the paint. Another recent addition is Onye Ibekwe, a 6‘5” forward who tried out as a tight end with the San Francisco 49ers three years ago.

Local players on the Breakers include point guard Shantay Legans (Dos Pueblos High) and center Santiago Aguirre (Santa Barbara High and Westmont College).

On the baseball diamond, the Santa Barbara Foresters, winners of five of their first six games, begin a six-game homestand at UCSB today (Fri., June 12) against the SoCal Black Sox at 5 p.m. The California Wahoo will face the Foresters on Saturday and Sunday.

In this week’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, 18 past and present Foresters were chosen. They include Westmont pitcher Tim Crabbe, taken in the 14th round by the Cincinnati Reds; UCSB second baseman Matt Valaika (20th round, Cincinnati); and first baseman Eric Oliver (36th round, Los Angeles Angels). Valaika and Oliver were among nine Gauchos chosen in the draft, the largest number ever to represent UCSB and the most from any Big West Conference team this year. Pitcher Joe Gardner, selected in the third round by the Cleveland Indians, was the Gauchos’ highest pick.

TOP SPORTING EVENTS: JUNE 12-21

Friday, June 12

Baseball So Cal Black Sox at Santa Barbara Foresters, UCSB Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, 5 p.m.

Saturday, June 13

Baseball California Wahoo at Santa Barbara Foresters, UCSB Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, 5 p.m.

Basketball West Coast Pro Basketball League semifinals at San Marcos High: Orange County Gladiators vs. Newport Beach Surf, 5 p.m.; Santa Barbara Breakers vs. Ventura County Jets, 7:05 p.m.

Sunday, June 14

Baseball California Wahoo at Santa Barbara Foresters, UCSB Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, 1 p.m.

Polo Vic Graber Memorial at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Basketball West Coast Pro Basketball League championship at San Marcos High, 2 p.m.

Tuesday, June 16

Baseball Fontanetti’s at Santa Barbara Foresters, UCSB Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, 5 p.m.

Running / swimming Reef & Run Summer Series (1k swim, 1-mile swim, 2-mile run, 4-mile run), Cabrillo Bath House, 6:25 p.m. Continues every Tuesday through September 8. Sign-up information.

Baseball Santa Maria Packers at Santa Barbara Foresters, UCSB Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, 5 p.m.

Wednesday, June 17

Baseball Fontanetti’s at Santa Barbara Foresters, UCSB Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, 5 p.m.

Running / swimming Nite Moves Summer Sunset Series (1k swim, 5k run), Leadbetter Beach, 6 p.m. Continues every Wednesday through September 2. Sign-up information.

Thursday, June 18

Baseball San Luis Obispo Blues at Santa Barbara Foresters, UCSB Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, 5 p.m.

Saturday, June 20

Baseball MLB Academy at Santa Barbara Foresters, UCSB Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, 5 p.m.

Sunday, June 21

Polo USPA Intra-Circuit at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

SEMANA NAUTICA

June 27-July 13 Semana Nautica (“marine week”) began in the 1930s when Santa Barbara residents organized sporting activities with visiting Navy sailors. It evolved into an annual sports festival open to the public around the July 4 holiday. There is no charge for spectators at any event, but the festival’s primary objective is to encourage participation. The 42nd Semana Nautica starts Saturday, June 27, with a US Sabot regatta. Other events include age-group swimming, ocean swims, a 15-kilometer run, tennis and softball. Information: semananautica.com.

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