A 13-game Channel League winning streak that spanned nearly two years came to an end for the San Marcos High boys basketball team.
Bryce Warrecker spearheaded a fourth-quarter surge and Santa Barbara claimed a 63-58 victory in a pivotal contest between the two remaining unbeaten teams in the Channel League.
“I wasn’t pleased with the way we played, but I was proud of the way we responded to the situation,” said Santa Barbara coach Dave Bregante. “San Marcos is loaded.”
J.R. Richards Gymnasium was packed and the two teams operated at a frenetic pace on the court that matched the intensity of the crowd.
A three-point play by Jackson Hamilton gave the Dons a 15-13 lead at the end of the first quarter and Santa Barbara increased its lead to 25-18 on a Hamilton three-pointer with 2:20 remaining before halftime.
San Marcos’ standout forward Beau Allen was fouled on a desperation heave just before the halftime buzzer and knocked down two of three free throws cutting the Royals’ deficit to 27-22 at the break.
The Dons packed the paint against Allen in an effort to stop him from attacking the rim and the strategy paid dividends, especially in the second half. Allen was held to two points after halftime as Santa Barbara put the game in the hands of San Marcos’ outside shooters.
“He may be the best player in the league,” said Bregante of Allen. “He’s just a great player and a great competitor. He’s just tough. He’s hard to guard and you know he’s athletic because he high jumps seven feet or something like that.”
A three-pointer by Aiden Douglas gave Santa Barbara a 33-26 lead with just over five minutes in the third quarter, but sophomore guard Isaiah Hicks responded with back-to-back midrange jumpers that shrunk the Santa Barbara lead to 35-34 with 3:16 remaining in the third quarter.
Hicks finished with 14 points, including ten on the second half to keep the Royals close.
Douglas connected on his third three-pointer of the third quarter to give Santa Barbara a 42-36 lead with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter.
Tommy Condon drilled back-to-back three-pointers that cut the San Marcos deficit to 47-46 with 5:05 remaining in the fourth quarter. Condon’s third three-pointer of the fourth quarter evened the score at 49-49 with just over four minutes to play.
“I thought the whole game we were within striking distance and I was feeling pretty comfortable that we were able to make a good push towards the end of the game, especially when we tied it up,” said San Marcos coach Jelani Hicks. “But they did a god job of kind of stopping our momentum by taking it inside to Warrecker and he did a good job of converting.”
With the outcome uncertain Warrecker took control of the game with nine consecutive points, including a three-pointer with 1:30 remaining that put Santa Barbra ahead 58-49 and ended any hope of San Marcos extending its winning streak.
“We got good drives from our guards. They can get past their guys and they started to have to double them instead of me so I was getting open looks,” Warrecker said. “They got me the ball and I was just there to put it up.”
Tommy Condon led San Marcos with 20 points. Warrecker finished with a team-high 19 point, including 13 in the fourth quarter and Hamilton chipped in 17 points.
Santa Barbara (20-3 overall, 5-0 Channel League) will travel to Dos Pueblos on Friday. San Marcos (10-7, 4-1) will host Lompoc on Friday.