Friday was the day the Lompoc Braves went 2-0 in the Santa Maria Holiday Hoops Tournament — an improvement from their first day of the final area tournament of 2018.
After falling short against Taft, the Braves boys basketball team came back to claim two victories against Morro Bay 66-57 and ended their evening with a 49-43 win over Hanford Sierra Pacific.
Both results were a welcoming sign of improvement for LHS head coach Paul Terrones.
“We wanted to walk away with two wins — and we were able to find a way to do that,” Terrones said.
Against the Pirates in the Friday morning contest, the Braves relied on Ryan Morgan and his shooting touch. The junior finished his morning with 30 points.
Morgan, though, wasn’t present for the second contest against the Golden Bears due to what Terrones called an illness and dehydration. Terrones made the decision to keep Morgan at home to heal.
But it turned out the Braves would end up just fine without their go-to scorer.
Benecio Cayabyab became the relentless lane attacker for LHS (9-9 overall). The senior swooped up steals and turned them into fast break points. Cayabyab, known as “Beans” to his Brave teammates, finished the night with 17 points through three quarters for Lompoc.
He wasn’t the only senior who played with high energy on the floor.
Kalub Ramirez played the role of steal king — intercepting three potential long fast break lobs. Ramirez then turned into facilitator by lobbing two passes to Collin Oestereich, who proceeded to finish one pass with an alley-oop layup and the other a fast break two-handed slam dunk late in the fourth quarter.
“Both seniors Beans and Kalub stepped up,” Terrones said. “I challenged them with the absence of Ryan that we were going to need a little more tonight — especially from those two. They brought something a little extra.”
Lompoc only trailed in the first quarter, which was a 4-2 deficit. But the Braves responded with a 7-0 run to take the 9-4 lead. During the second, Ramirez swished a 3-pointer while Cayabyab attacked the key and completed the left-handed layup, helping lead to the 29-22 lead at halftime.
Lompoc stuck with its defensive plan throughout the rest of the evening; utilizing double teams and forcing turnovers underneath the Golden Bears’ basket.
“I’m real proud of the guys defensively. I loved the rotations. They (Sierra Pacific) weren’t able to get the little dish off to the bigs. Defense won the game for us,” Terrones said.
Oestereich finished with 14 points. Elijah Perkins added nine points. Ramirez chipped in seven points.
Lompoc’s win sealed its spot in Saturday’s third place game against Santa Maria set for noon.
Cabrillo 2, Ontario Christian 1
The Conquistadores will be coming back to Vandenberg Village with the third place trophy in tow — after edging tournament host Ontario Christian on Friday down in Ontario.
Naomi Wiley scored both goals for the Conqs in the non-league tourney down in the Inland Empire. Cabrillo improved to 6-9-1 overall.
Wiley and goal keeper Morgan Christen made the All-Tournament team. Allie Dickson came home with the Eastbay Sportsmanship Award.