SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Santa Maria's venerable Wilson Gym has been strangely silent the past couple of weeks.
"A lot more quiet this time of year," said Santa Maria boys head coach Dave Yamate. "Usually, we have all the holiday tournaments and it's a busy, busy time of year for varsity basketball."
However, due to the stubborn 15-day old Thomas Fire, it's been anything but busy for many local high school teams.
"Because of all the situations down there with the Thomas Fire, it's put a hindrance on teams getting to play games and even practice," said Yamate.
Even teams far removed from the fire have been dealing with consquences.
Santa Maria High School, which is more than an hour north of the fire, has not played a boys varsity game in more than two weeks.
"December 2nd is the last time we played," said Yamate. "It seems like it's been a month. It's been a while since we played a game."
With the hope of getting his team and others back onto the court and also pitch in with relief efforts, Yamate came up with an idea.
"You're sitting back and seeing that they're losing games and the devastation that the fires are doing and we're thinking, what can we do to help out a little bit in some way?" said Yamate "So I talked to my A.D. (Athletic director Brian Wallace) and said maybe we can put together a little tournament and raise money for the Red Cross and fire relief."
Yamate's plan was to schedule several games with multiple teams. However, the fire threw a bit of wrench into original the concept.
"I have contacted probably 8 to 10 teams and there are so many teams that are just shutdown," said Yamate. "Carpinteria, Cate, Nordhoff, Santa Barbara, Providence have been affected. A lot of teams can't even get into a gym right now."
Fortunately, Yamate was able to schedule a pair of games. Santa Maria will host Channel Islands of Oxnard on Tuesday and Foothill Tech of Ventura on Thursday.
Proceeds from both games will benefit Red Cross fire relief in Carpinteria.
"As a coach, you're always trying to teach life skills to your guys and a lot of things are bigger than basketball," Yamate said. "When something like this happens, it puts things into perspective and that's what you try and share with the guys and in the big picture, if we can help out a little bit with the relief fund and also help some coaches get some games, I feel like we're doing a good thing."
Both games will be held in Wilson Gym. Tip-off is 6 p.m. each night. Admission is $5.