Victor Bryant – PRESIDIO SPORTS CORRESPONDENT – 4/26/2009
By Strong three-point shooting and an opportunistic defense propelled the Santa Barbara Breakers to an easy 120-78 win over the Beijing Aoshen Olympian team Saturday at the SBCC Sports Pavilion. The Breakers had a tough time with the Aoshen Olympian squad a week ago, squeaking by them 119-113 in Rosemead. But Saturday was a different story as Santa Barbara dominated from the opening tip.
Tim Taylor came out on fire from beyond the arc, draining four from long range in the first quarter to give the Breakers a 32-20 lead. “We got to find out when I can attack,” Taylor said. “At the beginning of the game we needed to be aggressive.” Santa Barbara increased its lead in the second, holding its opponent to 21 points in the quarter. The Breaker big men did an admirable job of challenging Beijing at the rim despite the fact that they were giving up size at every position. A three-pointer by guard Leonard Musley just before halftime made the score 61-41.
The second half provided more of the same as Zack Fray opened the third quarter with a baseline jump shot with a Beijing defender right in his face. Throughout the half, the Breakers fed off of each other’s energy. “We get to have fun on the court,” Taylor said. “It’s funny because we don’t know each other but on the court we really know each other well.” The Breakers were able to cruise down the stretch, relying on their defense to provide easy transition opportunities, delighting the crowd with a series of monstrous dunks.
This year’s team has a distinctly local feel, boasting four players with Santa Barbara connections including starting forwards Santiago Aguirre and Josh Merrill. Aguirre attended Santa Barbara High and Westmont While Merrill was a star at UCSB. “The chemistry from last year’s team has transferred over,” said Merrill, the most valuable player of the 2008 squad. “The guys put the team over the individual.” The Breakers are used to success, having won 31 of their past 32 contests including an 18-0 record last year. At 2-0, an undefeated season is once again in the squad’s sights. “I think it’s always out there. It would be a great thing to accomplish; until we lose we are shooting for that,” Merrill said.
Santa Barbara native and former Washington State guard Taylor Rochestie is expected to play in some games for the Breakers this year, but he was not in attendance on Saturday. The Breakers’ next home game is at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in the Sports Pavilion against the Orange County Gladiators.