WIll Rottman embraced the grand stage of Santa Barbara’s fiercest high school basketball rivalry and made it his own.
After taking two years away from the sport, the senior Rottman exploded for 25 points and 15 rebounds to lead Santa Barbara to a 60-46 victory over San Marcos, which clinched an outright Channel League title.
“I wanted to take advantage of it anyway I could. I was kind of anxious the whole day. It was kind of the same feeling I get for volleyball, which I hadn’t had for basketball,” said Rottman of the environment of the rivalry game.”I like playing in front of the away crowd. It’s fun for me.”
The Dons are ranked No. 1 in the CIF-SS Division 3A poll and have an opportunity to complete an undefeated run through the Channel League with a victory over Lompoc Thursday.
Hundreds of potential spectators were turned away at the door as a capacity crowd packed Maury Halleck Gymnasium. Early on in the first quarter it was San Marcos who responded positively to the environment.
The Royals jumped out to a 13-6 lead with just under three minutes remaining in the first quarter on an offensive rebound and put back by freshman Shakir Ahmad.
However, Santa Barbara responded with 13 unanswered points, including seven by Rottman to take a 19-13 lead at the 3:55 mark of the second quarter.
Tommy Condon snapped the Santa Barbara run with a three-pointer that cut the San Marcos deficit to 19-16 at the 3:30 mark of the second quarter. The San Marcos scoring drought lasted nearly seven minutes of game time.
“Tonight we just never found a rhythm and we were pretty stagnant on offense,” said San Marcos coach Jelani Hicks. “It didn’t come with any motion or flow with it. It was kind of just attack, attack, attack, and we’re not very efficient when we play that way.”
Santa Barbara took a 23-18 lead into the locker room at halftime and the third quarter was tight, but a step-back jumper by Stephen Davis with four seconds remaining in the period gave the Dons a 38-30 lead going into the fourth quarter and appeared to shift the momentum in Santa Barbara’s direction.
Rottman, a Stanford commit for volleyball, reasserted himself inside in the fourth quarter and finished off a lob from Aiden Douglas with a thunderous dunk with just second remaining in the game that punctuated the Santa Barbara victory and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
“He was looking forward to this game because everybody was talking about high Beau Allen jumps,” said Santa Barbara coach Dave Bregante of. “I think he wanted to say ‘well I can jump too.’”
Santa Barbara pulled away late despite only making one three pointer over the course of the game, which prompted Bregante to joke that he hasn’t seen that from one of his team’s since they instituted the three-point line
In addition to Rottman’s production, Davis finished with 12 points and Warrecker finished with 11. Allen, Condon and Ahmad all scored 12 points for San Marcos .