HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL : Determined Rio Mesa Stops Santa Barbara

Even though the game was delayed 45 minutes and the scoreboard clock was inoperative, nothing was going to stop the Rio Mesa High basketball team Wednesday night from remaining unbeaten in the Channel League.

Through a series of delays, hassles, confusion and even a late-game brawl, Rio Mesa battled to defeat Santa Barbara, 68-59, in a league game at Rio Mesa.

Ahmet Baras’ basket and free throw with 3:42 left gave the Spartans the lead for good as they converted 12 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

Santa Barbara (10-7, 4-2) scored 8 consecutive points to begin the fourth quarter and take a 54-50 lead before the fight erupted.


Steve Killgore grabbed an offensive rebound for Rio Mesa when the Dons’ David Palmer threw a hard elbow at Killgore’s head and both teams went into a head-long brawl into the first 2 rows of the Rio Mesa rooting section.

After another 5-minute delay, Palmer was ejected and Killgore went to the line and made 1 of 2 free throws. Eric Thomas then made 2 technical free throws.

Rio Mesa had the ball for a possible 6-point play. But the Spartans turned the ball over.

After a basket by the Dons’ Dan Purdy, Rio Mesa turned on a 9-0 spurt to open up a 62-56 lead on Baras’ 3-point play and timely free throw shooting.

Thomas led Rio Mesa with 16 points and Garner, who was scoreless in the first half, added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Santa Barbara held a 12-8 lead in the first quarter when Bruce Yamamoto came off the bench for Rio Mesa (13-3, 6-0) and immediately canned a 3-point shot to draw the Spartans to within 1. The Dons were hitting from the field in the first quarter, making 8 of 11 shots to take an 18-15 lead.

Santa Barbara’s Paul Perkins scored 2 quick baskets as the Dons took their biggest lead of the first half, 22-15. The Spartans then reeled off 6 consecutive points eventually evened the score, 31-31, at halftime.