A first round matchup against Harvard-Westlake was too much for the Santa Barbara High girls’ basketball team to overcome.
The Dons lacked the size to matchup with Harvard-Westlake’s 6’4” sophomore center Kiki Iriafen and were eliminated from the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs following a 60-30 loss on Wednesday night at J.R. Richards gymnasium.
“In the second and third quarter we got away from our game plan defensively and then we missed a lot of shots too,” said Santa Barbara coach Andrew Butcher. “We weren’t back in transition and then we didn’t double on (Iriafen).”
Despite the lopsided loss, the first quarter belonged to Santa Barbara as the Dons roared to an 8-4 lead on a transition layup by Athena Saragoza with 1:30 remaining in the period. A baseline jumper by Katrina Regalado put the Dons ahead 10-6 going into the second quarter.
A reverse layup by Saragoza with just over five minutes remaining in the second quarter increased the Santa Barbara lead to 14-10, but that’s when the game shifted.
The attention to detail and relentless effort on defense by Santa Barbara that had held down the visiting Wolverines offense to that point dissipated and Harvard-Westlake capitalized with a 18-2 run to end the first half and take a 28-16 lead into the locker room.
“I thought Santa Barbara came out charged. They came out fast, running the floor, making layups and we weren’t ready for that,” said Harvard-Westlake coach Melissa Hearlihy. “We had to kind of calm down and they played really physical tonight.
“I thought they wouldn’t have anything to combat Kiki, which is my center and as the game rolled on that proved to be true.”
Once Harvard-Westlake discovered how to attack Santa Barbara defensively the lead continued to grow. The Dons suffered injuries to key players Maya Banks and Mireya Gil when they collided going after a loose ball.
Without its top two defenders Santa Barbara was outscored 19-6 in the fourth quarter.
Saragoza led the way for Santa Barbara with 13 points, Regaldo finished with nine points and Caia Trimble chipped in eight points. All three players will be returning next season. No other Santa Barbara players scored in the game.
Iriafen, who has multiple division 1 offers as a sophomore finished with a game-high 22 points.
The Dons won their final seven regular-season games to capture the Channel League title