WATSONVILLE — For a moment, Ceiba College Prep was hanging with one of the big boys of the Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Arroyo division.
And then Bo Canepa took over.
Anzar’s 6-foot-6 senior center scored eight points, grabbed five rebounds and rejected a pair of shots during a dominant third quarter push in Wednesday night’s 62-37 league-opening victory over Ceiba in Watsonville High’s Goicovich Gym.
“I came out a little soft in the first half,” Canepa said. “In the third quarter, I turned it up a bit.”
Canepa finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in just three quarters of work, as his length in the post and sweet stroke from midrange gave the Spartans (0-1, 0-1) headaches after the intermission.
Senior point guard Diego Bracho added six of his 20 points in the third quarter, which the Hawks (4-4, 1-0) won 20-10.
“We gave them a lot of second chances,” said Ceiba head coach Jon Wahl. “They got the offensive rebounds, and our defense broke down after that…We got to see a lot of gaps that we have that we’ll address in practices.”
The “gaps” did not catch Wahl by surprise. Nine of the Spartans’ 12 players were playing in their first-ever organized basketball game, according to Wahl.
Despite the inexperience, the small K-12 charter school kept it close through two quarters — thanks in no small part to senior point guard Jarrod Garcia.
The 5-foot-11 deadeye shooter scored 17 of the Spartans’ 19 first half points to bring his team within six at the break.
Ceiba junior guard Jesus Franco sunk a layup through traffic in the opening minute of the second half to make it a four-point game, but Anzar exploded for an 11-0 run behind its pressing defense and Canepa’s dominance on the offensive glass.
Ceiba was never able to get it back to single digits, as Anzar forced the ball out of Garcia’s hands and halted the Spartans’ upset bid.
Garcia recorded a double-double with 25 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, but was held without a field goal in the fourth quarter.
“We have to work on a few things as a team,” said Garcia, who was working as a second coach on the court, barking out orders and physically moving some of his teammates into the right spot of their 2-3 zone. “I like the competition with Anzar because they’re a tough team, and I like to get people’s best. I don’t like people going easy on me. If I’m going to give it my best, I expect them to give me their best.”
Franco added 11 points for Ceiba. Junior forward Adrian Navarro was the only other Spartan to record a point, as he split a pair from the charity stripe in the third quarter.
Wahl expects that scoring distribution to change as the season goes on and first-time players improve.
“Since the first practice, in layup lines and drills that we’re doing, there’s already a big difference,” the coach said. “I feel really good that with a couple of weeks of games and practices we’re going to put something together.”
Ceiba last season fielded its first varsity squad, but was unable to find the win column and finished the season 0-12 overall and in Coast Athletic League action.
This season, the Spartans got a small boost of confidence with the arrival of the PCAL, the 33-school super league that leveled the playing field even more for small schools like Ceiba.
Last year’s co-CAL champions, Gonzales and Marina, play a division above Ceiba this winter, and the Spartans will not have to face a school with a bigger enrollment than Anzar (356 students) in PCAL-A play.
Their next opponent, Kirby, boast an enrollment of just 172 students.
They play the Griffins at Holy Cross School in Santa Cruz Friday at 5 p.m.