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SoCalHoops High School News

High School Team Preview:
Santa Barbara--(Nov. 1, 1999)

"We've got some great new players and if we can stay focused and injury free, we should be one of the better teams in our division this year."  Jeff Lavender, Head Coach, Santa Barbara High School.

Jeff Lavender is the head varsity coach at Santa Barbara High School, a team which plays in the Channel League against Buena, Dos Pueblos, Ventura, and San Marcos, and which competed last season in Division I-A (the next-to largest enrollment division) in the Southern Section of the CIF.   Jeff has had the head coaching position now at Santa Barbara for three years (he's entering his third). He's in his twelfth year as a head coach.  Prior to Santa Barbara, Jeff was at league rival San Marcos for 11 years, two as an assistant and 9 as the head coach. Jeff graduated from Pilot Rock High School (which he was quick to point out is located in Pilot Rock, Oregon) in 1979, a team which finished second in the state of Oregon that year, and Jeff was personally named to the First Team All-State of Oregon team. He then went to Westmont College, the same small Division III/NAIA school attended by Tim Tucker, the coach at Pasadena. "I was the two guard for two years while Tim played the one. He's a really great competitor and a great friend," Jeff said of Tucker. "Every year we play them during the summer, and his kids come up to Santa Barbara and stay with us for a week."  He's been married for 16 years, and has three kids, ages 6, 8, and 1 year. Jeff is also the head boys' golf coach at Santa Barbara and also coaches girls' golf.  Unlike last year when we caught up with him on his way to the golf course, this year we've gotten a bit more assistance and he's e-mailed us a lot of what you'll read below in the team profile.

Jeff also played with Tim under Chet Kamerer (who is now an assistant coach at Miami) and Randy Pfund, who is the GM, and apparently he liked Santa Barbara so much from his playing days at Westmont, that other than a short stint playing European basketball in Germany for a year, he's never even given any thought to living elsewhere. He returned from Europe in 1984, and immediately became an assistant coach at Westmont during the 1984-85 season, then moved over to San Marcos, where his best team, the 1991 team, finished second to Artesia and Ed O'Bannon in the Southern Section CIF Finals. "That was a great team, and we had some really talented players, but they couldn't get past Artesia." The next two years, San Marcos made it to the Southern Section quarterfinals. This is Jeff's third season as head coach at Santa Barbara, and it could be one of the best teams he's had in years.

Looking back on last season's team (1998-99), Lavendar was somewhat philosophical:  "Our 1998-99 basketball season is one which was memorable in a lot of ways, and while we didn't get a title, we were very, very good, and our guys played their hearts out.  We started out winning the Santa Barbara County Tournament by beating St. Joseph's team on their home court, and then we played well atthe prestigious Oceanview Tournament of Champions where we took fourth; the TOC Championship was won by Mater Dei, which went on to win the Division I Southern Regional and lost in the State Final, so we were in pretty good company. Horizon finished second, and they also went to the State Tournament, and Compton finished third, and they had some incredibly talented players. We then came back home and won our own Tournament, the Santa Barbara Holiday Classic,"  Lavendar said.  "So it was a pretty good start to the year. 

"We continued to play great basketball and won 14 games in a row to improve to 21-2 before taking our first league loss to a strong Ventura team," Lavendar recalled. "At that point our leading scorer and rebounder,   Tony Freeman, went out with an injury and we limped through the rest of the season with a record of 1-3."   Notwithstanding that injury, Santa Barbara still managed to enter the CIF Southern Section playoffs with a 22-5 record for the regular season, and in the playoffs, senior Craig Christ and junior shooting guard Brent Williams performed well.  The Dons beat Hueneme in the first round, and then beat J.W. North in the second round, but ultimately ran into San Bernardino Pacific in the quarterfinals of the D-IA playoffs.  The team finished 24-6 overall, and wound up ranked as the No. 5 team in the D-IA SCIBCA CIF poll rankings.

This year the team is without 9 of last year's seniors who graduated, and Lavendar is realistic enough to know that "they'll be hard to replace."  But the good news is that Santa Barbara is well on the way to finding able-bodied skilled replacements, and in fact they have some of the best players they've had in a long time. "This could be the best team Santa Barbara's had in a long, long time," Jeff said. "This summer our team had a 32-6 record. A lot of our new players played on All-Star teams over the summer and were very successful. Plus, we have some new transfers  who should really be able to help."

Here's the roster for 1999-2000 (in alphabetical order):

Daniel Angel 6'-2" Sr. F
Dante Bogan 5'-10" So. G
Filberto Curiel 5'-9" Sr. SG
Dante DeRose 5'-8" So. PG
Mike Henderson 5'-9" Sr. PG
Dommanic Ingerson 6'-3" Jr. SG/PG
Chris Koester 6'-2" Jr. F
Majak Majak 6'-1" Sr. G
Preston Maloney 6'-1" So. SG
Jesse Papworth 6'-1" Sr. F
Charlie Peterson 6'-7" Sr. C
Jason Peterson 6'-4" Jr. C
Trey Putnam 6'-7" Jr. F
Tucker Waterman 6'-5" Jr. C
Shawn Whilt 6'-0" Sr. PG
Brent Williams 6'-2" Sr. SG
KC Walling 6'-3" Sr SG

The roster is deep but not overly large, and injuries could again play a impact if one or more players winds up hurt at critical times during the year, so staying injury-free is something Lavendar will have to keep in mind.  But his guys have played a lot this summer and fall, and with constant conditioning, they should be in excellent shape for the long season.  And  if everyone stays healthy, Santa Barbara could again be a contender and go deep in D-IA playoffs. 

The lone returning starter and team captain is shooting guard Brent Williams. Brent is a two-year starter, and he matured into an outstanding all around player;  he has a nice three point shot with a quick, high release, and actually holds the current school career 3-point field goal record with 81 threes, and was the second leading scorer last season with a 14.0 average. He also pulled down 4.2 rebounds a game. He was the Dons best outside shooter; at 35% from the 3-point line, and also played great defense, generally covering the quickest players on an opposing team.   He's bulked up a bit and should also be a bit more effective inside this year. Also in the backcourt look for Shawn Whilt, another returning player who will look to get some time starting at the point, along with a few others on the roster during the season. Shawn played in a backup role last year and has honed his skills for his senior year, becoming one of the quickest players on the team, with a great handle and a variety creative passes. More of a passing point than a scorer, Shawn has a great opportunity to break the single season assist record for Santa Barbara, and he'll be the guy running the offense and defense. Shawn is also an excellent free throw shooter, and last year shot 81% from the line.  Also returning in the backccourt is Fil Curiel. Fil is a quick but diminutive shooting guard who played in 13 varsity games last season and showed a good ability to spot up and hit the open outside shot. Lavender says of him, "He will be our 'zone-buster' and he's very accurate from behind the three-point line. He's worked extremely hard to make himself into a good basketball player."

The backcourt this year also has five new players moving up from an outstanding JV team that went 15-5 and won the Channel League JV Championship. Mike Henderson, also a point guard was the MVP of last season's JV team, and he's a quick player with good handles and a terrific outside shot, who will get some time this season with Whilt at the point. Others who could see minutes at the shooting guard position are soph Preston Maloney and senior Majak Majak, both of whom have outstanding outside shots, but who will need to step up their defense to the level that they'll be expected to play at this year. Santa Barbara has no shortage of diminutive but exceedingly quick guards, and they'll have two more from the JV team in the two Dantes: Dante DeRose and Dante Bogan; both of whom could also see time at the point. 

But the really big news in the backcourt is at the shooting guard/wing positions, and two big time players have now checked in at the school:   Dommanic Ingerson, and KC Walling.  Ingerson is a transfer from Oakland McClymonds High who played all summer with George Albanez' 805 Basketball team, and Walling is a transfer from Lincoln High in Portland, Oregon.  Ingerson may be the most athletic player on the team and certainly has the most depth and experience playing with high caliber players.  Last year his McClymonds team lost to Oakland Fremont by a single point in the Oakland Section CIF playoffs, the same Fremont team that beat Mater Dei  for the Division I State title.  Dommanic is an excellent ball-handler, quick off the dribble, a great creator for himself and others. His play this summer tended between the phenomenal and the selfish, but in a structured environment of a high school team, he has the ability and the skills to be a true team leader and a star. There's no question but that Dommanic has been highly rated and regarded by most who follow the game:   He's been rated by SoCalHoops, PacWestHoops and HoopScoop as among the tops in the state, and was also rated by Dinos Trigonis as one of the best combo guards in the junior class. Dommanic is still very young (he's only 16) and while he'll have a lot of pressure on him to perform, he's got the ability to grow and mature into a big time player.

Walling, is also a potential starter at the point, who started last year for Lincoln for the second half of the season. He's got great vision on the court, and is an excellent passer, perhaps a better pass-first point than he is a scorer, but he's also got a good touch out on the perimeter, and it's actually more likely that he'll play the two this year than he will the one given all the other talent at Santa Barbara. 

In the frontcourt Trey Putnam is the big news among the newcomers.  He's a 6'-7" junior forward who started at San Marcos High School last season. Trey was one of the top sophomores in the Channel League last year. He's improved his game tremendously over the summer, and has spent countlkess hours practicing, working out, improving his shot and his footwork. Trey is a great perimeter player who can handle the ball well, shoot the three and also slash to the basket, and he could wind up as one of the best wing forwards in SoCal this season.  A good leaper, he'll also be important in getting boards, and to defend the opponent's best scoring forward.   Besides Trey, the Dons also have other options up front:  Another returning letterman is forward Jason Peterson, one of the strongest player on the team, and he's spent a lot of time lifting and bulking up and will be counted on for big rebounding, one of Santa Barbara's few weak spots last season. Also moving up from the JV (besides the five backcourt players) will be two more forwards: Jesse Papworth and  Daniel Angel;   Jesse is more of a skills player with good footwork and is a very hardworking guy, while Daniel is one of the smartest players on the team, and both of them will be counted on to make valuable contributions off the bench.

Also up front and adding some bulk to the line at the four/five positions will be four players:  Chris Koester, Tucker Waterman, Charlie Peterson  and Jason Peterson. The most skilled player in the bunch Chris Koester, who actually has a good chance to be a starter, and he had a great summer, finishing as the best rebounder on the team and the best inside scorer.  He didn't play last season, but was on the JV team as a freshman, and he spent the summer working hard and may be the go-to guy down low. Waterman is a transfer who is returning to Santa Barbara after a year at a private school.  He'll add some strength and rebounding to the frontline, along with Charlie Peterson,

Moving back to Santa Barbara after a year of private school is 6'5 Jr. Tucker Waterman. Tucker will add strength and rebounding to our frontline. Rounding out the bruisers is 6'7 Sr. Charlie Peterson, the tallest player on the team who is actually playing high school basketball for the first time, but has managed to turn into a very good defender int he paint and a nice shot-blocker and rebounder. Finally,   Jason Peterson will also see some time at the four position and will be counted on for his rebounding.

This is not a team heavy in seniors who will be highly recruited, with the exceptions Walling and Whilt,  but there are more than a couple of excellent junior prospects well worth taking a look at, including Ingerson and Putnam, and those wanting to get a look at some of this talent can see Santa Barbara  in two Santa Barbara preseason tournaments.  The Dons will play two scrimmages first against Lompoc on November 23, and then they'll play in the Santa Barbara County Tournament on the 29th and 30th, meeting Cabrillo at 7:30 on the 29th, and Lompoc at Santa Barbara on November 30th at 7:30.  The Santa Barbara tournament is one that stretches over more than a month and which is really just a series of games, not a traditional tournament format. Indeed, the last game of the SB County Tournament actually occurs on January 31, when the Dons will meet Righetti. But first, after meeting Lompoc and Cabrillo in November, on  December 4, the Dons will play St. Joseph at Santa Barbara at 7:30 p.m.  

In between, they'll appear at the first Glendora Triple Crown Challenge on December 1 at Glendora HS, where the Dons will play State Finalist Mater Dei at 6:30 p.m. as a part of a triple header, and this will be the first major test for the Dons against another Division I-A powerhouse. 

From December 6-11, Santa Barbara will play in the Thousand Oaks Rotary Invitational Tournament and then they'll host their own Santa Barbara Holiday Classic, which will run from December 27-30.  This is a 16 team tournament and will feature the following matchups in the first round:  Santa Barbara v. Point Loma; Bishop Diego v. Desert Mountain;  Leigh v. San Marcos; St. Joseph (Santa Maria) v. Santa Monica;  Glendora v. Dos Pueblos; Cabrillo v. Fremont, campolindo v. Thousand Oaks; and Lompoc v. Oxnard.

In between tournaments, during the preseason, the Dons will also squeeze in a game with Rio Mesa, and on December 23, there will be an alumni game. The preseason continues with the first league game set for January 7.  Here's the schedule after the first of the year; Channel League games are denoted with an asterisk (*):

Day Date Opponent Place Time
Wednesday Jan 5 Santa Paula SBHS 7:30 p.m.
Friday Jan 7 Dos Pueblos * SBHS 7:30 p.m
Saturday Jan 8 Arroyo Grande Arroyo Grande 7:30 p.m
Wednesday Jan 12 Channel Island SBHS 7:30 p.m
Friday Jan 14 Ventura * Ventura 7:30 p.m
Wednesday Jan 19 Buena* SBHS 7:30 p.m
Friday Jan 21 San Marcos* San Marcos 7:30 p.m
Friday Jan 28 Dos Pueblos* Dos Pueblos 7:30 p.m
Monday Jan 31 Righetti (SB Co. Tournament) Righetti 7:30 p.m
Wednesday Feb 2 Channel Islands Channel Islands 7:30 p.m
Friday Feb 4 Ventura * SBHS 7:30 p.m
Tuesday Feb 8 Buena * Buena 7:30 p.m
Thursday Feb 10 San Marcos* SBHS 7:30 p.m

In a five team league, the race could go to anyone, but right now, we'd have to say that it's probably going to be Santa Barbara's to lose if they can stay focused. This is a team with excellent athletes, who will need to continue to work together, and overcome the lack of a true center.  But like so many of the high school teams in the Southern Section, they are blessed with quick guards, good shooters, and pound for pound at this level, speed and shooting can more than make up for lack of height and size inside.  If the Dons can stay injury free look for them to be one of the top division I teams in southern California when the playoffs arrive in February.

 The Swish Award
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