Victor Bryant – PRESIDIO SPORTS CORRESPONDENT – 6/14/2009
There was more than one professional basketball title won on Sunday.
In a tight game throughout, the Santa Barbara Breakers wrestled away the West Coast Basketball League crown from the Newport Beach Surf, 127-118, behind strong performances by Mark Peters and finals MVP Mark Dawson.
The victory gave Santa Barbara back-to-back championships in the WCBL, after going undefeated at 18-0 last season, the leagues first in existence.
According to Breakers head coach Curt Pickering, Santa Barbara defeated a worthy opponent in Newport Beach.
“They are so talented and athletic,” Pickering said. “In some ways we’re a mismatch for them and they are a mismatch for us, so that is the chess match that was going on.”
Early on in the contest, the Breakers were able to establish a consistent high-low game between Jeremy Vague and Dawson, but despite their success Santa Barbara was unable to break away from Newport, trailing 28-27 at the conclusion of the first quarter.
Peters made his mark on the game in the second quarter, scoring five consecutive points to give Santa Barbara a 35-31 lead with 9:40 remaining in the half.
“We had more depth than them today so they were sinking in to conserve energy,” said Petersm who scored 21 points. “I had to be more on the attack to take advantage of that.”
Although the Breakers (13-3) received excellent guard play from Peters and company, they won this championship bout on the interior. Dawson was virtually unstoppable, displaying a nice touch around the rim en route to a game-high 33 points.
“Dawson comes off the bench and plays above the rim,” Pickering said. “He is very difficult to defend.”
Dawson’s layup at the halftime buzzer gave Santa Barbara a 63-59 lead and the momentum heading into the second half.
The teams went back and forth in the third quarter, playing within a six-point margin throughout.
The Breakers went on a 6-0 run to open the fourth quarter to take their largest lead of the game, 96-86. From that point on Newport Beach did not pose a serious threat.