DOS PUEBLOS AT SANTA BARBARA HIGH: Stung by a 51-40 loss to Dos Pueblos in January, the Dons’ girls caught fire early in last Monday’s game and won going away, 65-44. Providing the spark was Alondra Jimenez. The 5′6″ junior point guard made her first appearance on the court since last March after rehabbing from her second ACL injury.
Jimenez, wearing a brace on her right knee, made her first shot, a three-pointer. “Everybody went crazy,” said Cassandra Gordon, who had shouldered the playmaking duties in Jimenez’s absence.
“She’s just a super player,” Santa Barbara coach Andrew Butcher said of Jimenez. “She gets the ball to the right person at the right time.”
The right person in this game was junior guard Kristen Sullivan, who buried six three-pointers and scored 26 points. Gordon, another junior, scored 18, while putting out a strong defensive effort against Camila Casanueva, the Chargers’ high-scoring guard who has been dubbed "Le petit Mamba" by her coach, Phil Sherman.
Casanueva had only five points when Gordon went to the bench with the Dons leading, 62-33. The DP senior added seven more points without Gordon in her face.
“Cassandra was very good,” Sherman said. “Santa Barbara was desperate. They played hard.”
The Dons needed a victory to be assured of a winning record. They finished the regular season at 14-12 and will open the CIF Division 1AA play-offs tonight (Thu., Feb. 16) at Oaks Christian. Dos Pueblos (19-6) will also be on the road in Division 2AA against Bonita. Winning teams will advance to the second round Saturday.
Kimberly Gebhardt is used to going deep into the play-offs, having been a starter for all four years at Santa Barbara. “My freshman year, we had 10 play-off games,” Gebhardt recalled of the team that was the State Division 3 runner-up in 2014. Led by Amber Melgoza, now playing for the Washington Huskies, the Dons continued to contend for titles after being bumped up to Division 1.
Throughout her career, the 5′8″ Gebhardt has been an extraordinary rebounder. She collected 13 boards against Dos Pueblos. “It’s unreal,” she said after what may have been her last game at J.R. Richards Gym. “This is my second home.”
Butcher hopes the Dons can keep it going. “It’s how you play,” the coach said. “I tell the team that if they do it right, they can play with the Lakers. If they don’t, they can’t beat the Laker Girls.”
VANGUARD AT WESTMONT COLLEGE: In a defensive donnybrook between two of the top women’s teams in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, Vanguard’s No. 5 Lions came into Murchison Gym last Tuesday, February 7, and outlasted No. 3 Westmont in overtime, 64-57. Westmont (21-3, 10-2) is now two games behind Vanguard (24-1, 12-0) in the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) standings.
“I don’t know … we seemed tight,” Westmont coach Kirsten Moore said. “We wanted it so bad.”
Layups and free throws attained a high degree of difficulty, as the Warriors missed several of both in the final minutes of regulation. Thanks to their defense, which blunted Vanguard’s high-scoring attack (78.7 points per game), the game went into overtime with the score tied, 49-49.
After the visitors forged a 59-54 lead, Westmont senior Cora Chan hit a three-pointer, and a foul away from the ball gave the Warriors an opportunity to tie the score on a rare five-point play. But both of Aimee Brakken’s charity shots clanked, and Vanguard scored the last five points.
Claire Lamunu, a 6′1″ senior from Uganda, played like a lioness for Vanguard, scoring 25 points and taking 11 rebounds. Westmont junior Lauren McCoy scored 16 points, and Moore had high praise for Chan, who had 12 points and four assists while giving up just one turnover: “She was fantastic. She played to win.”
The Warriors will play the Lions in Costa Mesa next Tuesday (Feb. 21) and may see them again in the GSAC Tournament.
SCREEN TIME: It was quite a weekend for Bolden Brace and Alan Williams, two players who stirred up excitement on the courts at Santa Barbara High and UCSB.
Brace, a freshman at Northeastern University, made a last-second basket on an offensive rebound while falling down along the baseline, giving the Huskies a 73-72 victory at College of Charleston last Thursday night. The play not only made the Top Ten on ESPN’s SportsCenter but was No. 1.
In a nationally televised NBA game Friday, the Phoenix Suns needed Williams to shore up their depleted front line against the Chicago Bulls. He made the most of his opportunity. In 24 minutes — more than he had played since the start of the New Year — the 6′8″ forward, who had made a habit of posting double-doubles for the Gauchos, did the same for Phoenix: 14 points and 11 rebounds. He also blocked four shots in the Suns’ 115-97 victory.
GAME OF THE WEEK
2/17: High School Boys’ Basketball CIF Play-Off at Dos Pueblos After winning their first league championship since 2008, the Chargers were awarded a bye into the 2A Division round of 16. They ended the regular season with a 21-4 record, 8-0 in the Channel League, and are ranked No. 7 in the division. They will play at home Friday night against either Saugus (17-9) or Keppel (16-14). 7pm. Sovine Gym, Dos Pueblos High, 7266 Alameda Ave., Goleta. $5-$10. Call 968-2541.
S.B. ATHLETIC ROUND TABLE ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
Sophie Trumbull, San Marcos water polo — The junior goalkeeper stopped a penalty shot among 13 saves that helped the Royals hold off Dos Pueblos, 5-4, for the Channel League championship.
Cyrus Wallace, Dos Pueblos basketball — The Chargers made a clean sweep through the Channel League thanks to the junior forward’s 20 points in the finale, an overtime win over Buena.