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SoCalHoops High School News

High School Team Preview:
Santa Barbara Dons--(Oct. 29, 2000)

sbhsembl.gif (3693 bytes)We spoke briefly with Santa Barbara High School head coach Jeff Lavender this morning, and while we joked with him that our intention this season was to prepare much shorter previews than we've done in prior years, instead focusing more on just the top returners and some of the up-and-coming players,  rather than on coaches' bios (you can find out about Coach Lavender by taking a look at our last year's team preview of Santa Barbara at this link), our initial preview of Long Beach Poly was anything but "short". . . but with Santa Barbara we're going to get right to the point.

Last season the Dons, behind a host of seniors (10 in all: Mike Henderson, Jesse Papworth, Shawn Whilt, Kalin "KC" Walling, Charlie Petersen, Brent Wiliams, Daniel Angel, Majak Majak, Jason Peterson and Filiberto Curiel) and some of the most talented juniors in the state (Dommanic Ingerson, Trey Putnam), won 26 games, 20 in a row at one point, losing only in the Quarterfinals of the Division I-A playoffs to San Bernardino Pacific, which itself was defeated in the semifinals by eventual D-IA Section Champion Mater Dei.  In fact, the Dons last season only lost three games overall, once to Mater Dei in a game early in the season at the Glendora Triple Crown, and then to Oxnard, a very talented team which Coach Lavender described as "No fluke. Oxnard is a very talented team, especially with Nick Curtis." 

But after losing all those seniors from last year, there's no doubt that this will be a different team. They still return the two very talented juniors (now seniors), but there's no question that this team is not nearly as deep as last year.  "If we can stay injury free, we should be the favorite in the Channel League,"  said Lavender. "But I fully expect to lose more than three games this year," he said.  "We've been a lot more ambitious in our scheduling, and we will play tougher teams. While I don't think we will duplicate our record from last season, by the time the playoffs come around, we should be a lot tougher and better prepared for the kind of competition we'll be seeing than we were last season."

Here's a look at this year's roster:

Chris Koester   6'-3" Sr. F
Dommanic Ingerson   6'-3" Sr. G
Trey Putnam   6'-7" Sr. F
Dante DeRose   5'-8" Jr. PG
Dante Bogan   5'-10" Jr. G
Preston Maloney   6'-2" Jr. G
Kerry Russell   6'-2" Jr. G
Tucker Waterman   6'-6" Sr. C
Logan Burrus   6'-1" Jr. G
Jeff Given   6'-2" Sr. F
Jose Navarro   6'-1" Sr. G
Brandon Duke   6'-2" Jr. F

Obviously, the top two returning starters will be Dommanic Ingerson, who has committed to Michigan, and Trey Putnam, who is on the verge of committing (but hasn't done so yet) to either Air Force or Cal State Fullerton.   Dommanic has, over the course of two summers, developed a sort of "rep" as a selfish player, a guy who will never let anyone else touch the ball, and, to put it bluntly, has had some not very nice things written and said about him.  And according to Coach Lavender, not very much of what has been written or said actually has any applicability to the way Dommanic plays in a structured team setting, the kind of offensive program that you find at most high schools where there are some offensive plays and sets, where players don't just improvise and play free form, and where the point is not to attract a college coach's attention, but to actually have the team win.  Said Lavender: "I have seen Dommanic play in the exposure events, and I've seen him play for our team, and it's like there are two players. For us, he's very selective about taking shots, and is actually one of our assist leaders. I know what he's capable of doing, and I think that once he gets to college, he'll prove a lot of his detractors wrong."

There is no doubt that Dommanic will be the offensive leader on this team.  He's an excellent outside shooter, a solid defender, tough as nails, both mentally (he'd have to be with some of the nonsense that's been written about him, including the piece written about him on HoopsTV.com) and physically tough as well.  Trey Putnam is a solid athlete in his own right, who also played on Dommanic's "805 Basketbal" club team, and he can slash to the hole, or shoot from the wing and he's also a solid rebounder.

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Dommanic Ingerson, Santa Barbara's leading scorer has committed to Michigan (HoopsTV.com photo)

With these two returning as the principle focus of the offense, look for others to have to step it up: Tucker Waterman will play center and at about 210, he's a very physical defender, whose size and presence in the middle will be absolutely necessary if Santa Barbara is to have any chance to succeed this year.   Also new the varsity this year is Kerry Russell, a very good defender at the two spot, who could be a possible starter.  Preston Malone, a shooting guard, is also the quarterback on the Santa Barbara HS football team, and while he will likely come in off the bench, he'll provide some much needed depth and ball handling and scoring.  Chris Koester will likely play out on the wing with Trey at the four spot, and look for either DeRose or Bogan to step in to bring the ball up the floor, but with Dommanic likely setting the pace of the offense.  Others who will provide depth will be newcoemers Jeff Given, Logan Burrus, Jose Navarro and Brandon Duke.

Santa Barbara will be involved in several preseason tournaments this year, including the week-long  "Santa Barbara County Tournament"  which is somewhat of an oddity as tournaments go, because it's not played at just one venue, it involves all the teams in the county (with the addition of Arroyo Grande this year, which as we all know is in San Luis Obispo county, but which got invited evidently because it not only has some "big boys" like Phillip Johnson and Ryan Zimmerman, but which can also compete with the "big boys" to the south).  That tournament will feature teams like Santa Barbara, San Marcos, Bishop Diego, Dos Pueblos, etc., and it will run from November 27 through December 1, at gyms all over the County.

From there the Dons will travel down to Huntington Beach for the Ocean View Tournament of Champions, which this year will feature Ocean View, Mater Dei, Santa Barbara, Ontario, Compton, Gardena Serra, Redondo Union, LA Fremont, Pasadena, Morningside, Cajon,  and Perris (13 teams, and  sure its an odd number but that's who is in it so far).  The TOC will run this year from December 4-9, and right now while the brackets haven't been worked out according to O.V. head coach Jim Harris, he expects all the games will take place this year at Ocean View (unlike last year where some games were at Mater Dei).

Following the TOC, Santa Barbara will take a week off, and then will participate in the Rim Rattler Holiday Classic at the Long Beach Pyramid, from December 18-22, featuring such teams as Inglewood, Long Beach Poly,  Eisenhower, Compton Centennial, Fontana, Mayfair, SD Horizon Christian,  Pasadena, Long Beach Jordan, and a host of "national" schools like Mt. Zion, Rice, Gainesville (Fla), Chester (PA), Miami Senior, Southern Lab (LA),  Spingarn (Wash.,D.C.), Miami Christian, St. Albans (Wash.D.C.), and Boston English (Mass).

Finally following the Christmas holiday break, Santa Barbara will host it's own "Santa Barbara Holiday Classic" from December 27-30 at Santa Barbara HS, which will feature the following 16 teams:  LA Fremont, Lincoln (Tacoma WA), Pasadena, San Diego Pt. Loma HS, Oxnard, Dos Pueblos, Campo Lindo (Moraga, CA), Lompoc Cabrillo HS, Santa Monica, Troy, San Marcos, Lompoc, Desert Mountain (AZ), West Torrance, and Bishop Diego, in addition of course to host Santa Barbara.  The top seeds will likely be LA Fremont, Santa Barbara, Pasadena and Lincoln.

We also spoke with Coach Lavender about the Dons' chances in league and in the playoffs. "Well, obviously we're not as strong as last year, but if we can stay injury-free and healthy, we should still be the favorites.  Dos Pueblos is really a strong team this year, and while they don't have a lot of height, neither do we, and they have all of their excellent guards returning and are very deep. San Marcos is good too and could give us a lot of trouble." 

About the new "Three Division" split in D-I (the playoffs will be I-AAA, I-AA and IA), Coach Lavender was somewhat involved in the SCIBCA process which recommended further subdividing Division I to the Southern Section, but he would have taken it one step further. "I would have gone to four subdivisions.   There were actually about 190 teams in the overall D-I category at the State level last year, and by going to four, there would have been enough teams to easily make four competitive playoff brackets, and it would have avoided the problems that will now be certain to occur when it comes time to select the fourth team which gets to go to the State Tournament,"  Lavender said. "We'll see what happens, and maybe my idea will be one that the CIF decides to explore next season."

Just how far Santa Barbara gets this year is really anyone's guess.  But as always, we'll be watching. . .

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