This time, the Newbury Park High students who painted their faces and led the cheers didn’t come away disappointed.
A group of football and baseball players, wanting to support the rising fortunes of the Panther boys’ basketball team, started the face-painting tradition last week against Royal. But the strategy backfired when Newbury Park lost.
However, it worked wonders Wednesday night. The Panthers, inspired by a boisterous crowd, upset the Pioneers, 69-61, in a Marmonte League game at Newbury Park.
Newbury Park (14-8, 8-3 in league play) pulled into a first-place tie with Simi Valley (18-3, 8-3), the third-ranked team in The Times’ regional poll.
Newbury Park took control in the second half, when guard Daniel Bobik broke out of a shooting slump. After making only three of his first 14 shots, including a breakaway dunk in the second quarter, Bobik hit five of his next seven.
Bobik finished with three three-point baskets and 21 points after scoring just four in the first half.
“I was really disappointed in the number of open looks we let [Bobik] have,” Simi Valley Coach Dean Bradshaw said. “He’s too good a player for that.”
The Pioneers had plenty of their own problems. Starting forward Brett Michel, who missed two days of school this week because of flu, scored only four points on 1-for-12 shooting.
Sophomore center Rafael Berumen started strong for the Pioneers, scoring 13 of Simi Valley’s 15 points in the first quarter.
But Berumen picked up his fourth foul early in the second quarter, sat out the rest of the half and was handcuffed defensively the remainder of the game.
“Once he got his second foul, we wanted to keep going after him,” Bobik said.
Berumen finished with 25 points. Freshman Branduinn Fullove kept Simi Valley close with 23 points, including three three-point baskets.
Newbury Park took the lead for good, 57-55, on a basket by Jim Newton with five minutes left.
Bobik followed with a three-pointer and Simi Valley never got closer than three after that. The Pioneers had seven turnovers in the fourth quarter and finished with 20.
Newton, a 6-foot-9 senior center who was cleared to play four weeks ago after serving a school-imposed suspension, had 16 points and nine rebounds despite playing with three fouls the entire second half.
Newbury Park also received contributions from role players.
Sophomore Brian Bobik came off the bench to hit three three-pointers in the second quarter, when his older brother struggled, and Luther Staine added 11 points.
With Simi Valley trailing, 62-59, Nick Jones of Newbury Park picked up a loose ball and hit a 10-foot shot with two minutes left for his only points.