Last Saturday, Nov. 2, the Carpinteria High School boys basketball team was in the midst of tryouts. For the second season in a row, the Warriors program will be under new leadership, as last year’s coach Corey Adam joined the coaching staff at his alma mater, Santa Barbara High. The 2018-19 season was a memorable one with Carpinteria enjoying one of its most successful journeys, making it all the way to the CIF-SS semifinals, as well as participating in the CIF State Tournament.
The team’s new coach, Scott Sorich, has seen his share of successes on the hardwood as well. As an assistant at nearby St. Bonaventure in Ventura, Sorich helped guide the Seraphs to four consecutive Tri-Valley League titles and a trip to the 2018 CIF-SS Four-AA championship game. As the JV coach, his squad went undefeated for three straight seasons. As a student-athlete at Santa Clara in Oxnard, he was a member of the 1997 CIF-SS championship team under the tutelage of coach Lou Cvijanovich.
But this season, the new coach will be without the services of 2019 graduates: Ali Hamadi, Myles Morgan, Noah Nuno, Chris Ramirez and David Serrano. Although, Sorich lost some key contributors, he so far likes what he sees from this year’s group. “I’m excited, the players look good, they’ve got good chemistry,” said Sorich. “The fact that they’ve all known each other, and they’ve played a lot together, even in the offseason that helps a lot,” he explained.
The Warriors will have eight returners from last season: Jo Jo Gonzalez, Mateo Handall, Gabe Medel, Caleb Nangle, Luke Nakasone, Dylan O’Neill, Ian Reed and Jose Suarez. Four of those returners: Medel, Nakasone, Reed and Suarez play together with a local club team, the Mavericks. “Staying involved and actively working on their skill set throughout the year is important,” Sorich said. He knows this firsthand from his experience as the director of Ventura County Swoosh, a club basketball program that he started in 2010.
Like many Carpinteria basketball teams over the years the squad will rely on the talents of a few key players, with Suarez and Nakasone likely to be called on to win the battle of the boards when it comes to rebounding against taller opponents. Multi-sport standout Tyler Cervantes, who also plays both football and basketball, is expected to provide some muscle as well. Senior Esteban Zapata and juniors Junior Najera and Justin Rogers round out the rest of the squad.
Although, he hasn’t looked at film of this year’s competition in the Citrus Coast League, Sorich is familiar with many of the coaches. “I know that Scott Hannah’s been (coaching) a couple years at Nordhoff, and he’ll be able to put his imprint on that program,” he said. “Same thing with Hueneme, I believe they’ve graduated quite a few players, not sure what Marty’s (Meyer) working with over there.”
Hueneme won the inaugural Citrus Coast League championship with the Warriors taking second last season. Carpinteria will start a new basketball era on Nov. 22 when they travel to play Channel Islands with the tip-off at 7:30 p.m. On Dec. 4, they’ll host long-time rival Bishop Diego in a showdown at Warriors Gym starting at 7 p.m.