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The Santa Ynez Pirates raced out to a big early lead and never looked back in posting a 60-21 victory over the Orcutt Academy Spartans in a non-league boys basketball game Tuesday night at Santa Ynez High School.

The Pirates used a smothering man-to-man defense, coming away with 15 steals and forcing several errant Spartans’ passes to keep Orcutt Academy off balance.

Those turnovers led to 21 of the Pirates 32 first-half points before Santa Ynez head coach Ray Vazquez slowed the tempo in the second half.

Santa Ynez senior forward Ryan Rennick got the ball rolling with an early layup.

After a steal, Rennick was fouled driving to the hoop and sank both free throws for a quick 4-0 lead.

Spartans junior Elijah Stephenson got Orcutt Academy on the board, sinking one of two free throws but the Pirates responded with an 8-0 run behind senior Merek Mercado’s 3-pointer, Rennick’s fast break layup and a Mercado 3-pointer for a 12-1 a 12-1 lead.

Santa Ynez led 14-4 at the end of the first quarter.

Santa Ynez made it 16-4 at the start of the second quarter when freshman Ryan Devitt grabbed a rebound and put the ball back up and in.

Spartans’ fans roared when Stephenson swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 16-7 but the Pirates came right back with layups from junior forward Siggy Porter and a rebound and putback by Mercado.

After a turnover, Spartans junior Isaac Luque stole the ball back and put up a quick jumper from just inside the 3-point line but the Pirates still led 20-9.

That’s when the Pirates made the Spartans walk the plank.

Sophomore Brandon Pizano stole the ball, fed sophomore Scott Bunch who drove in for a layup; another steal led to another Bunch layup; yet another steal led to a Mercado layup and a 26-9 lead with 3:49 left in the half.

“We were just too anxious against their press. Our youth showed tonight and you could see we are going through some growing pains,” said Orcutt Academy head coach Ryan Smalley. “We’re got to learn to handle the ball better against the press. Turnovers are the biggest issue we have on offense.”

Spartans junior Erik Guzman sank a free throw with 2:34 left in the half but Santa Ynez went on a 6-0 run to close out the half with a 32-10 lead.

“The boys are getting better, collectively,” said Santa Ynez head coach Ray Vazquez. “We only gave up two open looks in the first half. The boys are learning that the open man doesn’t kill you — it’s the mismatches. You can see they are getting smarter as a team.”

Santa Ynez worked the shot clock the entire second half while maintaining its tight defense.

The Pirates held the Spartans to three third quarter points, on a Stephenson 3-pointer with 34-seconds left in the quarter, while upping their lead to 48-13.

Vazquez brought in the backups in the fourth quarter but after an 8-0 run put the Pirates up 55-15 with 5:51 left in the game, the referee signaled for a running clock.

Stephenson and Aidan Carroll led the Spartans with seven points apiece.

“Aiden played well, especially around the basket and Elijah put up some good outside shots,” said Smalley. “And Dylan Zafiris was solid for us all night.”

Ryan Rennick led Santa Ynez with 21 points, eight rebounds and six steals.

Mercado chipped in 17 points to go with four rebounds.

Bunch had four points and five rebounds.

“Scotty Bunch and Brandon Pizano are just sophomores and you can see their confidence starting to grow,” said Vazquez. “Ryan Devitt is just a freshman. He gets a lot of rebounds and the experience he’s getting as a freshman will do great things for his future as a Santa Ynez Pirate. And (senior) Aiden Estrada — you’ve got to love his work ethic. He continues to get better. He’s worked so hard that he’s worked his way into the starting lineup. He’s just an excellent teammate.”

Orcutt Academy (3-3) faces Cambria Coast Union Wednesday at Lakeview Junior High and then plays Friday at Los Olivos Midland.

Santa Ynez (5-3) headed to the three-day Fillmore Tournament Thursday, beating Trinity Classical Academy 52-37.

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Senior Sports Reporter