Shakir Ahmad continued his spectacular senior season with 18 points in a victory over Bishop Diego. | Credit: Gary Kim

Despite missing several players and its head coach, the San Marcos boys’ basketball team routed Bishop Diego 71-41 on day three of the Santa Barbara Holiday Classic.

The two schools are just a couple of miles apart, and with many of the players on both sides growing up together in the game, energy and effort were apparent throughout.

“I’m sure that [Bishop Diego] really wanted to beat San Marcos, and San Marcos wanted to make sure that didn’t happen,” said Tiffany Simms, the San Marcos High girls’ coach who is filling in on the boys’ side in the absence of Jelani Hicks and several players due to COVID-19 protocols. 

Shakir Ahmad and Jaden Reyes led the way for San Marcos with 18 points apiece, and the Royals raced out to a 17-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Bishop Diego was never able to cut the deficit below eight points for the remainder of the game.

“We knew going into this game that we were short a lot of guys, so the main thing was just to hold it down for the ones that can’t be here,” said Reyes, who caught fire in the second quarter, knocking down a series of jump shots off the dribble to extend the San Marcos lead.  “We’ve been in contact with our coach, and he’s been telling us the game plan, so we made a point to execute what he told us regardless of if they’re here or not.”

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A layup by Owen Lauderdale with just under two minutes remaining in the first half increased the San Marcos lead to 32-14, but Bishop Diego closed the first half with four consecutive points, including a Kai Morphy three-pointer to cut its deficit to 32-18 at the break.

Morphy had a cold shooting night overall for Bishop Diego as he was hounded by T.J. Robinson and Ahmad, but he still managed to finish with 25 points as the key cog in the Cardinals’ offense.

The Royals enjoyed balanced scoring in the second half to pull away as Robinson chipped in 14 points, Andre McCullough scored eight points, Conner Acuna finished with seven points, and Lauderdale had six points.

San Marcos will close out the Santa Barbara Holiday Classic against Newbury Park on Thursday, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Santa Barbara’s Mikey Denver scored a team-high 18 points in a loss to Newbury Park. | Credit: Gary Kim

Santa Barbara Holiday Classic Scores

Dos Pueblos, 81; Sherman Oaks CES, 45

San Luis Obispo, 65; Nordhoff, 62

Righetti, 60; Stockdale, 56

Dos Pueblos, 60; Troy, 41

Newbury Park, 61; Santa Barbara, 57

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