The Orcutt Academy boys basketball team did pretty well in non-league competition last year. It was in the league part of their campaign that the Spartans struggled.
Orcutt went 9-20 overall, including 1-13 in the Ocean League. The Spartans did meet the .300 overall winning percentage requirement to compete in the post-season. They went out in the first round against eventual CIF Central Section Division 6 champion Taft.
This year, Central Coast Athletic Association (CCAA) boys basketball teams are split into three leagues instead of the two they were in last year. The Spartans will play in the Sunset League this season. The league consists of Orcutt, Paso Robles, Cabrillo, Pioneer Valley, Santa Maria and Morro Bay.
Orcutt Academy was in the Ocean League with Santa Maria, Paso Robles and Morro Bay last season. Pioneer Valley and Cabrillo moved down to the Sunset League from the Mountain League.
“I think we’ll have an opportunity to hang in there with the other teams in the league if we execute,” said veteran Orcutt Academy coach Ryan Smalley. “I think all three leagues will be competitive.”
Orcutt senior wing Santiago Pedrazzi said, “I think we have a good chance to go far in league.’
Pedrazzi is a three-year varsity player. He was the team’s leading scorer last year, at 14.6 points a game.
At press time, Orcutt was off to a 3-2 start this season. The Spartans were to host Carpinteria Friday night at 6:30 p.m. The OA basketball teams’ home games are again at Lakeview Junior High School this season.
Save Bishop Diego, all of Orcutt Academy’s games have been against teams from the smaller Coast Valley League. The Spartans routed Coast Union twice, lost to San Luis Obispo Classical Academy 47-42 and beat Coastal Christian 61-44. Bishop Diego beat the Spartans 67-60.
“It’s a small sample size,” said Smalley. “We’ve done a lot of good things, there are some things we need to clean up.”
The offense the Spartans are running this season is familiar to Pedrazzi.
“We’re running most of the plays we did last year,” he said. “We added two or three new in-bounds plays. That’s it.”
Smalley said, “We don’t have a lot of size, we haven’t shot a ton of 3’s. Santiago is our best outside shooter.
“We mix it up on offense,” said Smalley. “We try for balance. We’ll go to the perimeter. We’ll try to run if the opportunity presents itself.”
Orcutt Academy lost eight seniors from the 2022-23 squad. The Spartans have six seniors, five of whom played last year, on their current team. Pedrazzi and Trenton Buzzard, a post/wing who was Orcutt’s second-leading scorer last season, are among those five returning seniors. Buzzard averaged nearly 10 points a game last season.
The Spartans have one freshman, point guard/wing Micah Moreno. One of the varsity newcomers Smalley is particularly counting on is sophomore post/wing Isaiah Soto.
Soto played for the Orcutt Academy junior varsity last season. “The varsity game is just faster,” he said. “I think I’ve adjusted to it pretty well.”
Kenny Cress is a sports reporter for the Santa Maria Times, covering local sports in northern Santa Barbara County. You can send information or story ideas to him by emailing it to KCress@SantaMariaTimes.com.