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Santa Maria's high risk, high reward style of basketball yielded a big reward for the Saints Wednesday night.

Typically, they shot the ball quickly. Typically, they went on some big scoring runs. Typically, they took a lot of chances on defense.

More often than not, the risks paid off in the form of steals. The quick shots yielded a lot of points, too, and Santa Maria ultimately pulled away from Bakersfield Mira Monte for a 90-71 win at Wilson Gym in a first-round game of the second annual Santa Maria Holiday Hoops Tourney.

"It was a big win for us,"said Santa Maria coach Dave Yamate. "(Mira Monte is) an athletic team, and they've played a lot of games." 

Santa Maria (5-2 overall) is 1-0 and Mira Monte (9-8) is 0-1 in Pool B. Fremont Irvington routed Lindsay 71-46 in another Pool B game.

Pioneer Valley edged Lompoc 57-54 in Pool A. Morro Bay defeated Hanford Sierra Pacific in another Pool A game. The score was not known at press time.

Each team will play two pool play games Thursday with the first, Pioneer Valley against Sierra Pacific, slated for 9:30 a.m. and the last one, Irvington against Mira Monte, slated to tip off at 8 p.m. All tourney games are at Wlison Gym.

The championship game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Friday, with the Pool A winner going against the Pool B winner. Santa Maria rallied to beat Pioneer Valley 67-63 for the tournament championship last year.    

The Saints came up with six Lions' turnovers in the third quarter and turned a lot of those turnovers into points. Santa Maria, which led 38-34 at halftime, outscored Mira Monte 23-15 in the third quarter.

Santa Maria put the game away by scoring on every possession except two in the first 6:06 of the Saints' 29-point fourth quarter.

Joey Nevarez scored 14 of his game high 35 points for the Saints in the fourth quarter.  Nevarez, the Saints' best 3-point shooter, finished with six 3-point baskets.

Santa Maria's offense needs a lot of 3-point baskets in order to roll, and the Saints got 12 of them Wednesday night. The Saints also need to get a lot of turnovers to help their transition game get into high gear and, as the game went along, they did.

"Our defense was feeding our offense, and that's what I like to see," said Yamate.

"We had a lot of guys crashing for rebounds. We had three guys, DaJoure Burress, Jonathan Ramos and Clark Kringel, with right around nine, 10 rebounds."

Burress is 6-foot-7. Ramos is 6-4. Kringel is 5-9, but he was big when it came to getting offensive rebounds as the Saints scored 14 second-chance points.

Ramos scored 16 points for Santa Maria. Blake Truhitte put in 11.

Aymar Cezares tossed in 29 points for the Lions, Cam Francisco had 13 and Hamed Almardhi added 10.

Cazares scored Mira Monte's first eight points and 11 of the Lions' first 13. He disappeared from the scoring column for awhile after that then started popping in baskets with regularity again in the second half.

However, the Saints, after seeing the Lions draw within 38-34 on five points off a double technical foul against Santa Maria with about a minute left in the first half, pulled away after Cazares scored the first two points of the third quarter.

A Kringel 3-pointer after the Cazares basket stared a 12-0 Santa Maria run, and the Lions couldn't get closer than nine points after that.

Ramos, like Truhitte, is rounding into basketball shape after helping the Santa Maria football team reach the CIF Southern Section Division 12 title game. Ramos suffered a shoulder injury in the third quarter of that one.

"I feel like I'm getting into basketball shape," said Ramos. "I took a week off from basketball after the shoulder injury.

"We just kept shooting '3's and hitting 'em, then we pulled away (from the Lions)," Ramos said.

Irvington 71, Lindsay 46

Braxton Carlson scored 19 points and Andy Zhao added 10 as the Vikings (5-4) eased to a Pool B win over the Cardinals (4-8).

Javier Avalos led Lindsay with 22 points.    


Sports Reporter