For top-seeded Santa Barbara a second round matchup with St. Bonaventure offered a unique challenge.
The Seraphs had the game on their home court where they had not lost all season and their assistant coach Patrick Davis is the father of Santa Barbara point guard Stephen Davis. That didn’t stop the Dons from pulling away late for a 62-53 victory on Tuesday night.
“It was a like a semifinal game or championship game,” said Santa Barbara coach David Bregante. “There were a lot of reasons for both teams to be fired up.”
Defense ruled in the first quarter as both teams were locked into their respective game plans and executed at a high level.
Stephen Davis drained a three pointer with just over six minutes remaining in the first quarter to give Santa Barbara a 5-2 lead, but St. Bonaventure forward Sebastian Cortez answered with three pointer of his own on the ensuing possession to even the score at 5-5.
A basket inside by Will Rottman with 45 second remaining in the first quarter gave Santa Barbara an 11-9 lead. The Dons went on to cap off a 10-4 run with just under seven minutes remaining in the second quarter on a thunderous dunk by Bryce Warrecker off a crafty bounce pass in transition by Davis increasing the lead to 15-9.
Davis went on to knock down his second three-pointer of the game just before halftime, increasing the Santa Barbara lead to 28-19 at the break.
“It’s definitely different. Usually he’s in my corner, but today he was on the other side,” said Davis of playing against his father’s team. “It was hard, but I had to do what I had to do for our team.”
Last season St. Bonaventure reached the CIF-SS Division 4AA finals and returned many of the core players from that team, including guards Mikey Hinkle and Kai Rojas, who finished with 21 and eleven points respectively.
Rojas, who grew up in Santa Barbara was the top priority defensively for the Dons due to his electric quickness in the open court and ability to get to the rim. However, he struggled with his outside shot and only to managed to knock down five of his 14 free-throw attempts over the course of the game.
“We didn’t finish at the line. I think that was the difference in the ball game and that’s kind of been our Achilles heel as a basketball team,” said St. Bonaventure head coach Pat Frank. “I warned the kids that sooner or later it was going to come and bite us and in this one it got us.”
A Davis three-pointer midway through the third quarter increased the Santa Barbara lead to 41-27, but St. Bonaventure closed the period on a 10-3 run, including a three-point play by Hinkle that cut the deficit to 43-37.
A steal and a layup by Hinkle at the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter cut the Seraphs’ deficit to 44-40, but they would come no closer. Rojas was fouled on a three-pointer with 20 seconds left and St. Bonaventure trailing 59-53, but missed all three free throws erasing any chance of a dramatic comeback.
Warrecker finished with a team-high 21 points. David added 15 points and Jackson Hamilton chipped in nine points.
The Dons will host Mary Star of the Sea of San Pedro on Friday in a quarterfinals matchup.
Second Round playoff Scores
CIF-SS Division 5A
Cate 61 San Jacinto Valley Academy 52
Carpinteria 72 Vistamar 54