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Santa Maria coach Dave Yamate welcomes players at end of first half against Farmerville in the Santa Maria Holiday Tournament on Monday, Dec. 27, 2016. Because so many games has been cancelled due to the Thomas Fire, Yamate is setting up a tournament to benefit the Red Cross fire relief fund for Carpinteria.

Santa Maria boys basketball coach Dave Yamate knows as well as any coach that a team needs practices and games to stay sharp.

Many teams from Carpinteria to Oxnard haven't been able to have much of either since the Thomas Fire broke out on Dec. 4.

In fact, "Some guys on the Cate team had to evacuate their homes," said Yamate.

"Everyone's health and welfare comes first, of course," said Yamate. "Teams down in Carpinteria haven't been able to play. They haven't even been able to get gym time to practice because the air's been so bad."

Moved by the plight of those on the south coast of the 805, Yamate made some calls and was able to put together a fundraiser tournament that will give his own team some games, as well as some teams that haven't had many.

Santa Maria will play Oxnard Channel Islands at 6 p.m. Tuesday and Ventura Foothill Tech at 6 p.m. Thursday at Santa Maria's Wilson Gym in two of the tourney games.

"Those games are firm," said Yamate. "We're trying to get some games for Monday and Wednesday. We talked to Santa Barbara-based Providence, and a Monday game with them is a possibility.

"But I know the winds around Montecito got bad again." At press time Saturday, the northbound 101 had been re-opened after being closed about 1.5 miles north of Santa Barbara, though that was because of a traffic accident involving a gasoline tanker truck and a car and not the Thomas Fire.

Yamate's own team has been affected. "We would be playing in the Carpinteria Tournament now, but that was cancelled because of the fire."

The Saints can use some more games themselves. They are 2-1 and haven't played since Dec. 2.

The Santa Maria coach said all proceeds from the Santa Maria tournament will be designated to go to the Red Cross fire relief fund for Carpinteria.

"Teams there have just had a really tough time," said Yamate. "Ordinarily, teams would be up to around eight to 10 games now because of the holiday tournaments."

Foothill Tech won four games to take the NPAA Tournament Championship and won the championship game on Dec. 2. The Dragons haven't played since.

Channel Islands finally got to play its first game on Dec. 13. The Raiders are 0-2.

Carpinteria and Cate have each played once. Cate hasn't played since Nov. 29, when the Rams defeated Garden Street Academy.

"As a coach, you talk to your players, you try to do what you can to help out," said Yamate.

"I just talked to (Santa Maria athletic director) Brian Wallace, made some calls and we were able to put this together."


Sports Reporter