By Brian Stanley

Contributing Writer

Sophomore forward Grace Padilla led the Santa Ynez High School girls’ basketball team in postseason honors, receiving the Channel League’s Defensive Player of the Year award.

“Padilla has been a huge piece to this puzzle since she arrived on campus last year as a freshman,” said Pirates head coach Jason Finley. “She is a great rebounder, having led the Los Padres League last season and on top of the Channel League this year.”

Padilla was a force for Santa Ynez in the low post, pulling in 11.2 rebounds a game with more than half coming on defense. The sophomore forward finished with 168 defensive boards in 27 games and collected a team-high 94 steals.

“She will be a big part of the Pirates program going forward,” Finley said. “For her to get that honor so young in her career … I see big things for her in the future.”

In his first year as head coach of Santa Ynez, Finley received top honors of his own, being named Channel League Coach of the Year.

“To receive coach of the year means so much to me. Having your peers notice the work that was put into our program is a great feeling,” Finley said. “My staff worked overtime the moment I took the program over. I put a lot on them and they responded.” 

Finley guided the Pirates to a 14-13 overall record and a second-place finish in the team’s first season in the Channel League, wrapping up a 7-3 league record.

Selected to the all-league first team were the Pirates leading scorers, junior guard Malia Loos and senior guard Lita Wright.

Loos showed why guarding her was difficult for opponents, as she broke two marks held by Maddie Quiroga — 3-pointers made in a single game and threes in a career, as well as Denise Perez’s single-season 3-point record.

The junior guard also tied Quiroga’s single-game record of seven against Arvin on Dec. 1 before breaking the record three days later, dropping 8 threes against Santa Maria. Loos then captured Quiroga’s career-threes record midway through league play, sinking her 131st career 3-point shot against Santa Barbara. 

“With (Loos) being a junior, she will only add to that mark,” Finley said. The junior guard wrapped up her third year on varsity with a career total of 144 threes made.

Loos broke the single-season record with three games left in the regular season, nailing her 59th 3-pointer to surpass Perez’s record of 58. Loos finished with 68 treys on the season.

Wright was the Pirates top scorer, averaging 10.1 points per game to finish the season with 274 points. The senior captain concludes her four-year varsity career with 662 points.

“Losing (Wright) will be tough. She has been our leader for four years and the best player over that time,” Finley said. “She will truly be missed.”

Sophomore center Madison Holbrook was named to the second team and receiving honorable mention were junior guard Morgan Blunt and sophomore Forward Molli Kadlec.


Leading Santa Ynez boys’ basketball All-Channel League selections was senior guard Merek Mercado, earning a spot as the lone Pirate on the first-team. 

Senior forward Ryan Rennick made the second team, and junior guard Nate Rogers and freshman forward Ryan Devitt received honorable mention.

The Pirates finished the season 10-16 but struggled to find wins in league, going 1-9 in the Channel League.


Finishing third in the Channel League, the Pirates boys’ soccer team had six selections to the all-league team.

Receiving first-team honors were midfielders Nico Rocha, a junior, and Erik Guerrero, a sophomore, while senior defender Ivan Virgen and junior midfielder Diego Reynoso were named to the second team.

Honorable mention went to senior defender Ben Blacker and freshman midfielder Colin Janes.

The Pirates (7-15-2, 5-4-1) earned a wild-card game in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs but lost to Carpinteria, 1-0, to get bumped from the postseason.


Santa Ynez midfielders Monica Pizano, a senior, and Sarah Johnson, a junior, made the All-Channel League first team to lead the list of eight selections from Santa Ynez.

Making the all-league second-team list were sophomores Jazz Feeley, midfielder, and Heather Rennie, defender, along with freshman midfielder Amelia Villa.

Freshman goalkeeper Brooklyn Fletcher and juniors Rozlynne Kristofferson, forward, and Katelyn Rennie, midfielder, received honorable mention.

The Pirates wrapped up the season with a 7-10-4 overall record and 4-3-3 in league for a fourth-place finish.


Senior Annie Ackert scored 42 goals this season to lead the Pirates water polo team into the CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs, earning Ackert a spot on the All-Channel League first team.

“Ackert pulled our team together the most,” said water polo head coach Michelle Kee. “She is also one of the assist leaders when it comes to points. She takes shots when she needs to, but she supports her team.”

Finishing fourth in league, Santa Ynez (15-8, 3-4) picked up an 11-5 opening round win over Santa Paula to advance. In the second round the Pirates lost a tight match 4-3 to the Walnut Mustangs.

Receiving honorable mention were seniors Jayde Maniscalco, Layna King and Lili Torres and sophomore Valentina Del Solar.


Santa Ynez Pirates’ Richie Sandoval claimed fifth place in the 120-pound weight class at the CIF State Wrestling Championships, defeating the No. 2 seed in the bracket, Jacob Rivera, in a 7-1 decision.

The fifth-place match against Rivera was a rematch from the quarterfinals, where Sandoval lost to Rivera 5-4 to get bumped from the championship bracket.

Sandoval, the seventh seed, finished the state tournament winning six of eight matches.