#11 Luke Zuffelato and #22 Mikey Denver battle for rebounding position. | Credit: Miguel Unzueta Sr.

As the Santa Barbara Dons headed into the second half against Trinity League powerhouse St. John Bosco, it looked like the Dons may be poised for a big-time upset. 

The Dons hosted the Braves, who started the season as the #12 team in the Los Angeles Times preseason boys’ basketball rankings, and through two quarters, the home team was trading punches, even taking a 24-22 lead with just a minute left in the half. At the break, Santa Barbara was confident with its chances trailing 25-24.

The second half turned out to be a completely different story, as St. John Bosco’s top talent exploded for 24 points in the third quarter, while holding the Dons to just one basket to take a 49-26 lead into the final stanza. In the fourth quarter, the Dons continued to struggle with  St. John Bosco’s stiff defense, and they were held to eight points on the way to a 61-34 loss.

The Braves’ high-scoring second-half effort was led by 6’7″ senior forward Christian Estrada and 6’4″ freshman phenom Elzie Harrington — who reportedly has already received some early interest from UCLA. Estrada had 14 points in the game, half of which came in the second half, and the emerging star guard Harrington led all scorers with 17 total points. Kad Boham was the third St. John Bosco player in the double digits with 11 points in the win.

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Santa Barbara’s young roster showed some fight throughout the game, and the Dons’ sophomore forward Mikey Denver and freshman shooting guard Luke Zuffelato led the team with 18 combined points. Nine of Denver’s 11 points came in the first half, and six of Zuffelato’s seven points came in the Dons’ explosive second quarter.

With the win, St. John Bosco improves to 10-2 on the season, going 2-0 in their weekend road trip in Santa Barbara County with wins over Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos. The Braves beat the Chargers 80-33 on Saturday night. They return to the court for a home game on Wednesday against Woodrow Wilson.

Santa Barbara moves to 3-7 overall and will hit the road for a Tuesday night game against Nordhoff. Following a tournament at the end of the year, the Dons will start league play with a home game against Lompoc on January 4 and an away game against crosstown rival Dos Pueblos on January 7.

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