#22 Sophomore Mikey Denver goes up for a layup against Sherman Oaks CES. | Credit: Gary Kim

A strong first quarter sparked the Santa Barbara High boys’ basketball team to a 66-40 victory over Sherman Oaks CES on day one of the Santa Barbara Holiday Classic.

The Dons were led offensively by freshman Luke Zuffelato and senior Blaise Winston, who scored 14 and 13 points respectively.

“We’re really focused on getting better defensively. Our rotations have been a little slow. We’re still doing some ball watching when the call gets moved,” said Santa Barbara coach Corey Adam. “I think the key to the first half is we really moved a lot better with the ball [defensively].”

The Dons (5-7) have played a tough non-league schedule this season and taken their lumps in the hopes that it will pay dividends later in the season.

#42 Shakir Ahmad scored a game-high 26 points to lead shorthanded Royals to victory over Troy. | Credit: Gary Kim

With league play beginning next week, the Holiday Classic offers an opportunity to build momentum for the crucial games ahead.

“It’s hardening them,” said Adam of the tough schedule that included Trinity League powerhouses Santa Margarita and St. John Bosco. “The game is starting to slow down because of it.”

Against Sherman Oaks CES, Santa Barbara jumped out to a 24-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Winston scored 11 of his 13 points in the first quarter as the Dons built their decisive lead.

The Knights responded with a strong second quarter, cutting their deficit to 33-18 at halftime, but the final outcome was never in doubt as the Dons built their lead to 49-28 at the end of third quarter and cruised to victory.

Santa Barbara Holiday Classic Scores

San Marcos, 54; Troy, 49

Dos Pueblos, 70; San Luis Obispo, 52

Newbury Park, 74; Righetti, 42

Stockdale, 67; Nordhoff, 42

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