Winning three of four games to start the season provided a major boost for the SBCC men’s basketball team, which has struggled in recent years before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled its 2020-21 campaign.
But a 91-71 loss to visiting College of the Canyons on Wednesday night at the Sports Pavilion proved the Vaqueros still have plenty of room to grow under first-year head coach Devin Engebretsen.
“I think our guys learned tonight what the physicality of California community college basketball really is. It’s what we just saw: big, strong athletes,” Engebretsen said. “Our guys are a resilient group, and we have a no-quit mantra. Last week, we lost to Bakersfield here, and we bounced back and beat L.A. Valley.”
Canyons boasted a significant size advantage that translated into a rebounding advantage as the Cougars outrebounded SBCC 58 to 31 overall.
Balanced scoring and gritty defense have been a formula for success thus far this season for the Vaqueros, and those attributes were on display early in the game against the Cougars.
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Freshman guard Wilfrid Nado finished with a team-high 16 points for SBCC, and the Vaqueros cut their deficit to 44-38 going into the locker room at halftime.
San Marcos High product Tommy Condon also chipped in 10 points for SBCC, including two three-pointers.
The second half belonged to Canyons as 6’4″ guard Andrew Henderson scored 16 of his 21 points after the break.
“Their press from the start can create a wear-down factor both physically and mentally,” Engebretsen said. “Canyons did a great job. They have a great system, and we have to improve.”
SBCC (3-2 overall) finished with a 1-25 record in the 2019-20 season and 3-24 in 2018-19 so the strong start to the season represents a major turnaround in the program.
“We want local guys coming here, and then after that, obviously we have to recruit outside of our district because we only have four high schools in Santa Barbara,” Engebretsen said. “That’s one of our missions. We don’t want to lose a single kid to another community college that is from Santa Barbara.”