The Righetti Warriors battled all the way but, in the end, came up short in their tipoff to the winter sports season.

The Santa Barbara Dons celebrated a season-opening 70-65 victory in a non-league boys varsity basketball game Tuesday night on Righetti’s home court.

“That was a difficult first game,” said Santa Barbara head coach Dave Bregante. “We had some sloppy play, too many turnovers and our free throw shooting wasn’t very good. But we only have two seniors and three juniors. We play a lot of freshmen and sophomores. You have to give a lot of credit to Righetti. They’re a pretty good team, they’re well coached and they never gave up. They fought us hard right to the end.”

“Santa Barbara is traditionally a great team. That’s why we schedule them early every year,” said Righetti head coach Jeremiah Rivas. “If we had a little more success on a couple possessions, the game could have gone the other way. But I thought it went well. The effort was there – the boys played hard.”

The Dons (1-0) broke open a tight game with a 23-12 third quarter and then hung as a scrappy Warriors squad battled back throughout the fourth.

Dons’ sophomore center Bryce Warracker led all scorers with 24 points, one of four Santa Barbara players to hit double digits in scoring.

Aiden Douglas and Morgan Peus each added 12 points and Johnnie Coleman had 10 for the Dons.

“Those four guys really stand out,” said Bregante. “They’re the heart of our team.”

The Warriors (0-1) were led by Anthony Rodriguez with 22 points, Weston Hammell with 19 and Caleb Thomas with 10.

The action was non-stop with both teams pressing the action from the opening tip-off.

Peus got the ball rolling for the Dons, grabbing a rebound off a Warracker miss and putting the ball into the net for the first basket off the season.

Hammell took the inbounds pass and raced down court for a one-man fast break to get Righetti’s first bucket of the new season, tying the game at 2-all and both teams were off to the races.

When Gabriel Bois hit a jumper from the free throw line, Righetti led 14-10 with 3:18 left to go in the first quarter. That was the biggest lead Righetti would have all night.

The Dons went on a 10-0 run, taking a 20-14 lead on Jasper Johnson’s fast break layup.

Righetti came right back with a Thomas drive and a Jalen Davis layup at the buzzer to pull Righetti with two, 20-18, at the end of the first quarter.

When Peus and Jackson Gonzalez hit back-to-back 3s, the Dons opened an eight-point lead midway through the second quarter.

Rodriguez cut the lead to three with a long 3-pointer from the top of the key and then hit two of three free throws after he was fouled trying for another three from the same spot.

The Warriors were down by six as the clock wound down in the half when Hammell hit a short jumper and a long three to cut the deficit to one.

Douglas answered with a three from the right of the key but Righetti got those points back when Rodriguez hit three free throws shortly before the half.

Peus grabbed a rebound and put it back with 30 seconds left in the half.

Thomas followed with the Warriors’ second buzzer-beater to give the Warriors a boost heading into the half trailing by one, 36-35.

Santa Barbara went up by six early in the third quarter.

The teams traded baskets until the Dons went on another run, taking a 12-point lead late in the quarter.

The Dons held that lead, heading into the final quarter up 59-47.

When Bois grabbed a rebound and put it back and Rodriguez followed with a 3 from the right side of the circle, the Warriors were within five, at 61-56, with 4:45 left in the game.

But Douglas killed that momentum with another Santa Barbara three.

Another 3 by Rodriguez kept the Warriors alive at 64-59 with 2:50 left in the fourth.

At that point, the Dons began working the clock and after Peus dribbled around and hit a short jumper that just beat the shot clock, the Warriors were forced to foul.

Righetti was down 11 with 30 seconds left in the game when the Warriors staged a final flurry – Thomas laid one in, followed by Davis’ fast-break layup and a Thomas put-back of a rebound – scoring the game’s final six points but time ran out on the Warriors.

“Another tough battle with Righetti to open the season,” said Bregante. “It shows us what we have to work on to get better.”

“Weston played a great game for us and Caleb is still getting his legs under him after the football season,” said Rivas. “But this is a tough group that works extremely hard. They showed a tremendous amount of resilience tonight. They came back, got some big defensive stops late in the game – that was encouraging.”

Righetti will be back in action Saturday night when the Warriors host the Lompoc Braves.

Women's basketball

Reedley 72, Hancock 63

The Tigers took control at the eight-minute mark of the second quarter and spoiled the Bulldogs' season home opener.

Karley Beyers made a layup early in the second quarter to push Hancock's lead to 23-13, but Reedley out-scored Hancock 24-9 the rest of the quarter and stayed ahead.

The Tigers moved to 4-1. The Bulldogs are 2-2. Their offense has not gotten out of the 60's in scoring this year. Tuesday marked the first time this season that an opponent has scored in the 70's against the Bulldogs. 

The final margin represented the biggest point spread the Bulldogs have been involved in, win or lose, this season.

Nyla Curtis fueled Reedley's second-quarter surge by making four of her five three-point tries then. She finished with a game high 30 points. I'man Conley added 18 for the Tigers.

Beyers scored a team-high 18 points for Hancock. She also had eight rebounds, six assists and two steals. Grace Rosa added 14 points and eight rebounds, and Taylor Lee-Hammer scored 13 points.

Lee-Hammer and Hannah Walls both had four assists for Hancock. 

The Bulldogs shot 53 percent from the field but came up short. 

Girls Tennis (Monday)

CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament

Arroyo Grande junior Delanie Dunkle qualified for the round of 16 for the second straight year, winning in the second and third round after receiving a first-round bye.

Regional action Monday took place at Cate and Carpinteria High Schools in Carpinteria.  

Dunkle,the PAC 8 League champion and fourth overall seed, defeated Coastal Canyon League top seed Taylor Newman of Simi Valley 6-1, 6-1 in the second round and Mission League top seed Erica Ekstrand of Studio City Harvard-Westlake 7-6 (2), 6-0 in the fourth round.

Dunkle will compete next Wednesday at the Seal Beach Tennis Center.

Dunkle's teammate, Maddy Ferreros, had a bye in the first round of the regionals. The PAC 8 number two seed lost 4-6, 2-6 (11-9) to Westlake Village Westlake's Samantha Noh, the second seed from the Marmonte League, in the second round.

Arroyo Grande's Peyton Dunkle, the second-seeded team from the PAC 8, won two regional matches before losing 6-2, 6-3 to the overall top seeds, Foothill League champions Amanda Tabanera and Carlotta Nonis-Marano, of Valencia (Valencia) 6-2, 6-3 in the third round.

Mostajo and Peyton Dunkle defeated Kai Nikchevic and Lauren Lombardi of West Hills Chaminade, the Sunshine League champions, 6-0, 6-2.

The Arroyo Grande duo downed Madelyn Hernandez and Michaela Wilkins of Pasadena Maranatha, the top seeds from the Olympic League, 6-0, 6-1 in the second round.

Women's water polo

Four Hancock College players earned All-Western State Conference honors from the conference's coaches.

Sophomore Shannon Copeland, a South Africa native, earned a spot on the All-WSC First Team. Copeland was Hancock's leading scorer with 50 goals. She also had 26 steals and 22 assists.

Copeland finished her Hancock career as the two-year program's all-time leader with 115 goals and 60 steals.

Hancock sophomore Ellyn Clardy and freshman goalkeeper Shay McMann earned spots on the All-WSC Second Team. Sophomore Meagan Coyne earned honorable mention.

McMann set a school single-season record with 236 saves. McMann made 38 steals and had a save percentage of 48.4 percent. Clardy ranked third on the team with 28 goals and led the Bulldogs in assists with 38.

Coyne earned honorable mention for the second straight year. She finished second on the team with 44 goals, 37 steals and 33 assists.

Hancock finished 11-16, including 2-5 in WSC play, under second-year coach Dominique Miller. 

Junior Varsity

Santa Barbara 55, Righetti 44

The Righetti JV squad was tied 37-all with Santa Barbara with 7:30 left in the fourth quarter of their season-opener when the Don’s went on a 10-0 run.

Righetti cut the lead to six with 1:50 to go but was forced to foul in an attempt to get back into the game.

The Dons hit eight free throws down the stretch to put the game away.

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Senior Sports Reporter