VOTE ON ALL THREE SITES. Voting closes on Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 5 p.m.
Santa Maria Times | Lompoc Record | Santa Ynez Valley News
It took nearly 7,000 votes cast, but the first round in the Player of the Decade contest has been settled.
There were a few close races, and a few boat races, but 16 nominees have been whittled down to eight.
The most contentious race came in the Robbie Berwick-Chad Brodhead showdown.
Brodhead, a Cabrillo High grad and the No. 11 seed, narrowly edged Berwick, a former Atascadero standout and the sixth seed. The final vote tally was 293-286 in favor of Brodhead.
Readers of the Santa Maria Times were able to cast votes for over week, with the polls closing at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
St. Joseph graduate JoJo Walker was the winner of the second-tightest matchup, edging former Righetti star Ryan McGready 604-519. Walker was seeded third and McGready 14th.
Cameron Walker, the No. 1 seed and a Righetti High grad, edged No. 16 Bryan Smith of Arroyo Grande 492-112.
There was a major upset as Cabrillo's Aaron Abayari, the No. 15 seed cruised past Mission Prep graduate Quinton Adlesh 477-290. Adlesh, one of the Central Coast's greatest shooters and scorers, went on to play at Columbia and USC, but didn't get enough votes to surpass Abayari, a standout point guard during his days with the Conquistadores.
In another upset won by a former Cabrillo point guard, No. 13 seed David Terrones got past No. 4 seed Brent VanderVeen 436-231. VanderVeen was a standout post player and quarterback at Arroyo Grande High, who went on to play football at Oregon State.
In yet another upset, former St. Joseph guard Gabrys Saduanykas, the No. 12 seed, had little trouble with Cabrillo High graduate LeAndrew Knight, the fifth seed. Sadaunykas won 464-325.
Case Bruton, the No. 7 seed, had a tough go of it against No. 10 Gage Gomez, a former Arroyo Grande standout now a freshman walk-on at UCSB. Gomez won that matchup with the most votes cast in the first round, edging Bruton 932-314.
Another former Arroyo Grande great didn't have as much luck in the 8-vs.-9 matchup. Matt Willkomm, the No. 8 seed, was topped by former St. Joseph center Keith Datu 638-306.
Datu had the second most votes in the first round. There were 6,519 votes cast across all three sites when the polls closed at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Readers can now vote for the next matchups online at santamariatimes.com; lompocrecord.com and syvnews.com. The polls will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
The Times polled current and former coaches to develop its list of nominees for Player of the Decade. Players from Northern Santa Barbara County and Southern San Luis Obispo County whose final seasons where between 2009-10 and 2019-20 are eligible.