Bolden Brace described Scott Everman in terms that could apply to both of them: “He’s long and lean and a basketball machine.” Both high school juniors have helped their teams reach double-digits in the win column as they head into Channel League play ― the 6’5” Bolden with the Santa Barbara Dons, and the 6’6” Everman with the San Marcos Royals.
For most of their lives, Bolden and Everman have been teammates, beginning as 3rd graders at the Page Youth Center. They played on the S.B. Vipers traveling basketball teams, and lately they’ve been playing AAU summer ball as teammates with the Los Angeles Rockfish. They partnered up to win beach volleyball competitions a few years ago.
“Brothers from other mothers” could apply to the pair. Given that they were born three days apart at Cottage Hospital in October 1997, their relationship nearly fits another rhyme: Twins from different kin.
Their parents ― Billy and Meredith Brace and Mike and Cindy Everman ― all graduated from Santa Barbara High. Meredith and Cindy both played volleyball for the Dons. Billy was a football linebacker, and Mike a water polo player.
“My dad told me from a young age that I’d be going to Santa Barbara,” Bolden said. His first name was picked right out of SBHS lore. “I thought of all the Boldens [Terry, Charles, Kevin, Torlando] who played for the Dons,” said Billy Brace, who lives by the credo “Once a Don, always a Don.” The family home is within walking distance of the school.
The Evermans reside closer to San Marcos, and Scott followed his brother, Connor, a senior guard on the basketball team, to play for Santa Barbara’s archrivals. The schism has added spice to the relationship between Bolden and Scott. They will meet twice during the league season ― on Wednesday, January 14, at San Marcos, and Friday, January 30, at Santa Barbara. Expect the gyms to be packed and the noise levels to be high.
“There’s a certain vibe that goes around at these games,” Brace said. “It’s nerve-racking.” Everman (who’s also an Athlete of the Week) is glad to be playing next week’s league opener in the Royals’ gym, known as the Thunderhut. “Our student section takes pride in being crazy and energetic,” he said.
The two have already clashed this season on a neutral court, and San Marcos came away with a 50-38 victory over the cold-shooting Dons in the championship game of the Jim Bashore Holiday Cage Classic at Carpinteria High. “We’ve gotta get that one back,” said Brace, who was a sophomore reserve last year when Santa Barbara swept all three games against the Royals. “We weren’t ready. I didn’t shoot well.”
At least a pair of Bolden’s shoes had a good night: They were worn by Everman, who scored 21 points and was named MVP of the tournament. “Scott gave shoes to a teammate, and one of his new shoes split open,” Cindy Everman said. “I said, ‘Call Bo. He’s got a dozen pairs.’” Of course, the boys wear the same size. Their parents have a baby picture of them lying side by side and aren’t completely sure who is who. Scott, who was called “Slim” early in his basketball career, has always been slightly taller; Bolden’s hair is darker. But the most striking difference between them is their school colors ― Bo’s olive and gold, and Slim’s red and blue.
They may be their teams’ outstanding players, but the reason for the success to date of Santa Barbara (14-3) and San Marcos (11-4) is that Brace and Everman have embraced the team concept. Given an open look, Brace might launch an NBA-range three-pointer ― he happens to be a fan of Stephen Curry ― but he is always looking to dish the ball to other snipers on the perimeter, like Chris Givens or Chris Wagonhurst, or feed post player Ben Clay down low. Likewise, San Marcos has a cast that complements Everman, including forward Kele Mkpado and sharpshooter Ryan McCarthy.
In crunch time, the ball is almost sure to be in the hands of the two stars. Santa Barbara and San Marcos both pulled out overtime victories last weekend. Brace hit a step-back jumper with seven seconds remaining as the Dons won at Oxnard, 63-62. Everman’s two baskets in overtime lifted the Royals over Corona del Mar in Orange County, 41-38.
“Bolden has a chance to be a real special player at Santa Barbara High,” Dons coach David Bregante said. By “real special,” he means a college Division I, even NBA-caliber player. But he’s reached only 50 percent of his potential, Bregante said. The 70-year-old coach is very old-school, and he doesn’t think much of AAU basketball, agreeing with Kobe Bryant who was recently quoted as saying it’s “horrible, terrible” because “it doesn’t teach our kids how to play the game.” But it’s what young players do if they can afford it, traveling around the country to summer tournaments where they are exposed to college recruiters.
Landon Boucher, the young coach at San Marcos, came out of the disciplined system at Westmont College ― as did Bregante, 50 years earlier ― and he observed Everman’s game has blossomed in the past year. “Scott could always score,” Boucher said. “To see him develop as an all-around player is a testament to how hard he’s worked.”
The Bo-Scott connection may be the best thing the players have going for them. They were shooting around in the Page Youth Center the other day. “We’ve played one-on-one in this gym many nights during the off-season until 11 or midnight,” Everman said during a joint interview.
Asked if they had any final words, Scott said, “Go Royals.”
“Go Dons,” Bo retorted. “See you on the court.”