There was no school on Monday in observance of Lincoln’s birthday, but that didn’t prevent half of the area schools from attending the latest Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table.
The weekly luncheon held at Giavanni’s Pizzeria in Orcutt saw five of the 10 regional schools sit inside the back end of the venue – as area playoff teams from the winter sports season and one CIF state girls wrestling qualifier filled that space.
On the girls’ side, Cabrillo’s Lesly Hernandez got recognized as the Female Athlete of the Week – as the 101-pound wrestler sealed her second straight appearance to the CIF State Girls Wrestling Championships after claiming third at the CIF Southern Section Finals held in Corona over the weekend.
“It’s pretty good because I’ve improved a lot in the past couple of the years,” Hernandez said. “I’ve been more technical. It’s more because of my teammates and my coaches telling me what to improve on.”
Joey Nevarez of Santa Maria High boys basketball took the Male Athlete of the Week honor after scoring 22 points twice last week – which helped solidify the Saints’ second place finish in the Los Padres League and a playoff berth. It’s the second time Nevarez was honored by the Round Table.
“It’s cooler (to win again) because the last time, we were in Hanford so I didn’t get a chance to do the interviews and stuff. So this one is cool,” Nevarez said.
Lompoc Unified School District board member Dick Barrett went solo for the Braves at the Round Table. Barrett, though, gave updates on the upcoming playoff matchups involving the Braves from the soccer field to the basketball gym.
He also acknowledged Hernandez of Cabrillo and gave her praise for the strong weekend she had.
Dave Yamate brought out his deep senior lineup of seven players – all of whom Yamate said were instrumental in helping change the culture of the boys basketball program at SMHS.
In attendance were: Nevarez, Jonathan Ramos, Carlos Ochoa, Kobe Medina, Saul Santiago, Mike Kurgan and DaJoure Burress. Not in attendance were Blake Truhitte and Clark Kringle – the last two seniors on the Saints’ roster. Yamate beamed about the performance of his senior class at the Round Table.
“They’re a big reason why they helped build our program and got us back in the playoffs,” Yamate said, who added that the Saints’ home playoff game is set for 6 p.m. against Arcadia Rio Hondo Prep on Wednesday – and that’s it’s the first time SMHS has hosted a home playoff game since 1985.
“We had a couple of long road trips last playoff season, but the guys are excited about being at home,” Yamate said.
Wrestling took center stage first for the Knights. Head coach Armando Gonzalez brought out Jakob Hernandez (PAC 8 League champion), Jacob Medrano, Marcelino Gonzalez and Victor Zepeda.
Athletic director and head boys basketball coach Tom Mott brought out Elijah Brinez and Kainoa Keuma of the Knights’ basketball team. Mott added that the Knights will take on Westlake Village Oaks Christian to open the CIF Southern Section Division 2A playoffs on Wednesday.
Wrestling head coach Mike Wallace spoke first for the Conquistadores. Wallace not only shined a light on Hernandez, but shared updates on a quartet of boys wrestlers who placed high marks during the LPL Finals in Nipomo: Patrick Durham, Cristian Reyes, Cruz Smith and Riley Daltorio – the latter three taking third in their weight classes while Durham placed second in his weight group.
Athletic director Dan Troup then spoke next on behalf of the Conqs. Troup called the winter sports season “a strong sports season” with league titles in boys basketball, girls basketball and girls water polo. He added how the school is excited once again for Hernandez moving on to state.
Valley Christian Academy
Randy Stanford took the stage first to share updates on the girls basketball team, as the Lions will host a home game against Cate on Thursday. Stanford said getting the home game “was a pleasant surprise.”
His players Heather Knutson and Ciera Sallee were on hand. Lions boys basketball head coach Chris Maples then spoke for VCA – pointing out that the Lions also will host Hueneme in the playoffs on Wednesday. Players Jarrett Smith and Jonathan Mussack represented the Lions’ boys basketball playoff team at the Round Table.
Hancock College wasn’t in attendance, but Round Table emcee Charles Sommer spoke on behalf of the Bulldogs – sharing how the men’s basketball team continues their winning roll with a seven-game winning streak while also giving out updates on baseball and softball.
Not in attendance were Orcutt Academy, Santa Ynez, Righetti and Pioneer Valley.