Lompoc is now 0-3 in the 44th annual Tara Kobara Optimist Tournament at Arroyo Grande.
This time, the Braves never led throughout the game and fell 93-48 on Friday afternoon against a traditional boys basketball heavyweight down in Ventura County: Oxnard High.
It’s the same Yellow Jackets team that has won more than 14 games a season ever since Jeff Staniland took the head coaching reins in the 2008-09 season. They’re also the same OHS team that has 13 upperclassmen on a 14-player roster this winter.
And, this contest inside the AGHS gym was between a CIF State Playoff qualifier from the 2016-17 season (Oxnard) and one from last year (Lompoc).
But Oxnard went straight to a half court press to put this game away immediately.
The Yellow Jackets (3-3) forced multiple turnovers near the AGHS logo at half court and turned them into quick points. Oxnard managed to get a 27-10 lead early in the first – and never let up.
Lompoc (3-5 overall) only had two players scoring in the first half: Andrew Villa and Collin Oestereich. The Braves trailed 53-25 at halftime.
Yet, LHS second-year head coach Paul Terrones hinted that this tournament would be a long measuring stick on where things are with the Braves.
“I just try to tell them that I really came to this tournament because I really wanted to challenge ourselves and expose our flaws heading into league,” Terrones said. “We can try to improve some things and that definitely happened. We’re just trying to stay positive that way on Monday we can put on our boots and get back to work.”
Terrones added another hard aspect of the TKO Tournament: Breaking down each opponent. Especially considering how LHS has had consecutive games since Wednesday and is set to play again on the tournament’s final day on Saturday.
“There’s not a lot of time to watch film – and that’s part of it too,” Terrones said. “I would like to give these guys a better game plan. But at this time of year, it’s more about focusing on ourselves anyway. Everyone is on the same boat. We’re trying to play hard every possession and as far as team attitude, it’s us just making sure we’re in the right place.”
Oxnard relentlessly attacked the hoop following its steals. Football star Dom Brown, Kai Johnson and Stacy Johnson were seen extending their hands and letting the basketball fall smoothly through the net.
Lompoc managed to get another big scoring night from senior Andrew Villa. Fresh off of scoring 32 points in the Thursday 77-66 loss to Bakersfield Centennial, Villa finished with 26 points.
“He’s been able to put some points on the board,” Terrones said. “But we’ve just got to get a few other guys to do the same and I think we’ll be in a good spot.”
Collin Oestereich was the only other Brave in double figures with 10 points. Ryan Morgan added six points while Elijah Perkins and Dominic Ballesteros nailed one 3-pointer each.
The Yellow Jackets ended the day with four players scoring in double figures. Kai Johnson led with 17 points, Stacy Johnson chipped in 14 points while Christian Manabat and Brown had 12 points apiece.
Outside of the four, Joel Guerrero knocked down a trio of 3-pointers en route to nine points. Kobe Mayeda and Emery Barajas had six points apiece and 2019 University of Oregon football commit Jaron “J.R.” Waters was one of four OHS players with four points along with Kevin Tate, Xavier Harris and Eric Berrios.
And that kind of scoring production comes during a time that the Yellow Jackets gained back their football players, who just 13 days ago played for the CIF Southern Section D6 title (23-14 loss to West Covina South Hills).
“We’re showing some growth that we need,” Staniland said. “We just got our football guys back about two weeks ago. They play such a big role for us. We’re trying to get better. We’ve got to get better through these games (in the tournament) – and we saw that. Which was what we needed right now.”
Staniland cited Brown as one of the top tone setters for Oxnard’s defense, saying “Dom does so much for us because he’s so versatile. And he plays at the top of our press because he’s so long. He just creates so much havoc.”
Even with the 0-3 output in the TKO Tournament, Terrones is optimistic that these types of games will be beneficial for the Braves down the road – as Channel League play looms.
“I knew this tournament would be tough,” Terrones said. “In staying and watching a few games, there’s some real good quality basketball here. I was super excited to come and I know it doesn’t feel great to lose like that, but I think it opens our eyes in who we want to be and how we want to play.”
San Joaquin Memorial 1, St. Joseph 0
The Knights got, what head coach Al Garcia called, a huge test from out of the Central Section in the Panthers. Especially for his young defense that's predominantly led by sophomores.
"It was a fantastic effort considering how young our defense is," Garcia said by phone. "But unfortunately, Korby Burress (top scorer for SJHS) couldn't get loose against them and got frustrated. Overall, it was a good effort."
Goal keeper Analea Pule got five saves for the Knights at Jay Will Stadium.