Dos Pueblos basketballers (from left) Devon Davison, Ryan Beall, Sean Park, Ben Johnson, and Daniel Placencia, with coach Joe Zamora (center).
Paul Wellman

“I’d rather go to these high school games than the Lakers,” a friend told me after Dos Pueblos and San Marcos staged a stirring basketball shootout two weeks ago. A few days later, the Lakers’ acquisition of Pau Gasol captivated their most prominent fair-weather fan-one Kobe Bryant-but my friend still holds that the preps provide the ultimate in pure basketball thrills.

It was hard to argue with him when Sean Park‘s three-point shot electrified the jam-packed Thunderhut (the San Marcos gym) and gave DP’s Chargers a 50-47 victory. Park scored 12 of his 25 points in the last couple minutes to overcome the torrid shooting of Royals guard Trevor Hopkins (20 points in the second half).

There was also a display of tenacious defense by the Chargers-forcing turnovers and getting stops-after they fell behind by six points in the fourth quarter. “I knew we were going to have close games in league and would have to be tough on defense,” DP coach Joe Zamora said.

Zamora could not have been more accurate in his assessment. The Chargers went 8-0 in the Channel League, winning by an average margin of five points. Last week they took a 48-45 victory over Santa Barbara and wrapped up their championship season with a 46-45 win at Ventura. San Marcos won seven of its last eight games-five by double-digit margins-but Royals coach Jarrod Bradley said, “DP won all the close games.”

Both schools will open the CIF Division 1A playoffs on their home courts Friday, February 15, at 7:30 p.m. Dos Pueblos will host Villa Park, and San Marcos will take on Leuzinger. Santa Barbara managed to snag a wild-card berth and played Wednesday night.

Carpinteria will travel for a 3AA playoff game against La Puente. Jacob Ranger, the Warriors’ 6ʹ5Ê° senior sharpshooter, has been nominated for the prestigious McDonald’s All American Boys Team. He has accepted a scholarship to UC Davis.

There is something more than raw talent behind the surprising ascent of Dos Pueblos to the league and city championship. Park is a tough and heady player-the 6ʹ3Ê° forward, a four-year starter, will be an asset to Westmont or some other small college-but the Chargers’ trump card has been their cohesion. It shows when they are swarming after loose balls. Park, Ryan Beall, Devon Davison, and Robert Vickers are collectively averaging seven steals a game.

Zamora, a DP graduate (’85), said his program is built on a foundation of “family, first of all, and being competitors in the classroom” before the boys come out to play basketball. The team has bonded around the coach’s family. On January 18, his two-year-old nephew Jeffrey Zamora died after a year-long struggle with leukemia. The Chargers wear T-shirts and wristbands bearing Jeffrey’s name. There will be a bodyboarding contest at Campus Point on February 23 to help defray the costs of his medical care.

Is there something in the Goleta water? Dos Pueblos also has the top-ranked girls’ water polo team in CIF Division 2 (they open the playoffs this afternoon, February 14, against Newbury Park); a playoff-bound girls’ basketball team; and three league champion wrestlers.

The water polo team ended Santa Barbara High’s streak of 11 consecutive league titles with an 8-5 victory over the Dons last week. The changing of the guard took place at the Elings Aquatic Center, a $5 million project that has put a first-rate community pool on the DP campus. Prior to the game, there was a ceremony at the wall of tiles naming the contributors, from students to millionaires.

DONS ROLL UP GOALS: Santa Barbara High continues to be skillful on the soccer pitch. The Dons are ranked No. 1 in CIF Division 2 and will open the playoffs at 3 p.m. on Friday against a wild-card team.

COLLEGE HOOPS: The homestretch has been full of potholes at UCSB. For the second time in Big West play, the Gaucho men blew a double-digit lead and fell to UC Irvine, 65-59. They need a victory over Cal Poly tonight (7 p.m. at the Thunderdome) to secure their footing in the upper half of league standings. The Gaucho women also can’t stand prosperity, but in their case they’ve been building up 20-point leads and hanging on, as they did in topping UCI, 77-69. Junior center Kat Suderman scored 22 points and was named Big West Player of the Week. Winners of 11 consecutive games entering this week, the women host Cal Poly at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Top Sporting Events: February 14-24

Thursday, February 14

College basketball Cal Poly at UCSB men, 7 p.m.

High school girls water polo (CIF playoffs) Newbury Park at Dos Pueblos, 3:15 p.m.; Costa Mesa at Santa Barbara, 3:15 p.m.

High school girls basketball (CIF playoffs) La Canada at Bishop Diego, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, February 15

College volleyball UC Santa Cruz at UCSB, Robertson Gym, 7 p.m.

High school boys soccer (CIF playoffs) El Modena or Trabuco Hills at Santa Barbara, 3 p.m.

High school boys basketball (CIF playoffs) Villa Park at Dos Pueblos, 7:30 p.m.; Leuzinger at San Marcos, 7:30 p.m.; Carpinteria at La Puente, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, February 16

College women’s basketball Cal Poly at UCSB, 2 p.m.

College baseball California Baptist at Westmont (2), 11 a.m.; College of the Canyons at SBCC, 1 p.m.

College women’s tennis Texas San Antonio at UCSB, 11 a.m.

High school girls basketball (CIF playoffs) Dos Pueblos at Newbury Park, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, February 17

Running Carpinteria Kiwanis 5K, Carpinteria Bluffs, 8 a.m.

College men’s tennis Loyola Marymount at UCSB, 1 p.m.

Every Monday

Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon, Harry’s Plaza Cafe, noon

Tuesday, February 19

College baseball Cerro Coso at SBCC, 1 p.m.

Wednesday, February 20

College volleyball UCLA at UCSB, Robertson Gym, 7 p.m.

Thursday, February 21

College women’s basketball Pacific at UCSB, 7 p.m.

Friday, February 22

Cycling Amgen Tour of California Stage 5: Solvang time trial, 12 p.m.

College basketball UCSB men at Utah State, 6 p.m. (TV: ESPNU)

College baseball Marist at UCSB, 2 p.m.

College softball Softball by the Beach Tournament at UCSB: Portland State vs. UCSB, 11:30 a.m.

Saturday, February 23

Cycling Amgen Tour of California Stage 6: Santa Barbara waterfront to Santa Clarita, 11 a.m. start.

College women’s basketball UC Davis at UCSB, 2 p.m.

College baseball Marist at UCSB, 1 p.m.; Point Loma Nazarene at Westmont (2), 11 a.m.; Mt. San Jacinto at SBCC (2), 10 a.m.

College softball Softball by the Beach Tournament at UCSB: St. John’s vs. UCSB, 9 a.m.; Portland State vs. UCSB, 11:30 a.m.

Sunday, February 24

Running Independent Roses to La Playa 5K, State and Pedregosa to Leadbetter Beach, 8 a.m.

College baseball Marist at UCSB, 1 p.m.

College softball Softball by the Beach Tournament at UCSB: St. John’s vs. UCSB, 11 a.m.

College men’s tennis Oregon at UCSB, 1 p.m.


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