Early season growing pains have paid immediate dividends for the San Marcos High boys basketball team.
The Royals started the season 1-5 after taking their lumps at the Simi Valley tournament, but with a 52-37 victory over visiting Santa Ynez on Thursday night, San Marcos has now won three straight games and improved to 2-0 in Channel League play.
“Beau (Allen) and Andrew (Frohling) of the guys that were available today they are the only ones that have varsity experience,” said San Marcos first-year head coach Jelani Hicks. “We have a relatively young team and games are the best experience. It’s the only way to learn on the job a little bit.”
One of the major contributors from last season’s CIF-SS Division 2A championship team is senior Beau Allen, who was always the most athletic player on the San Marcos roster, but now is also the most experienced.
Allen scored a team-high 17 points as he flashed an expanded offensive repertoire that included post moves and midrange jumpers in addition to his dynamic attacks on the rim.
“My mentality is mostly the same. I try to help out as many people as I can,” Allen said. “Now I just have the extra responsibility of trying to get a lot more points for my team too.”
The first quarter was tight as an offensive rebound and put-back by Santa Ynez senior captain Ryan Rennick cut the Pirates’ deficit to 12-10 with 45 seconds remaining.
However, San Marcos opened the second quarter on a 13-3 run capped off by a steal and layup by Tony Njia.
Merek Merkado, who finished with a game-high 18 points banked in a shot that cut the Santa Ynez deficit to 27-20 late in the first half, but Allen followed with an emphatic put-back dunk just before halftime to give San Marcos a 29-20 lead.
The third quarter was dominated by the San Marcos press, which took Santa Ynez out of its offense. The Royals outscored the Pirates 16-7 in the quarter and took a 45-27 lead into the final stanza.
“It’s just taking them out of what they want to do and just stifling them as much as we can,” Hicks said of his team’s emphasis on defense. “It’s getting them to understand the intensity that needs to be played for 32 minutes.”
San Marcos (4-5 overall, 2-0 Channel League) will take part in the Damien tournament beginning on Dec. 26th.