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Girls Basketball

Anais Jimenez Comes Through in Crunch Time, Helps Santa Barbara Girls Beat Ventura

Anais Jimenez and the Santa Barbara High girls basketball took a pounding from Ventura’s Kenya Henderson during the first three quarters of their Channel League first-place showdown on Thursday.

But Jimenez and the Dons got in the last blows and pulled out a 51-48 victory in overtime at J.R. Richards Gym. 

Jimenez scored on an offensive rebound with six seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 45-45. In overtime she drew an offensive foul with 2:15 remaining and the Dons up 49-45 and blocked Emma Larson’s path to the basket for Ventura in the final seconds.

Larson threw up a wild shot and Madison Miller of the Dons recovered the ball and started to dribble up court. But Ventura stole the ball  and sharp-shooter Jazmin Carrasco cast up a three-pointer that bounce off the back of the rim. Alondra Jimenez grabbed the rebound and dribbled out the clock, and Santa Barbara celebrated the dramatic victory.

Alondra Jimenez scored 19 points, Cassandra Gordon tossed in 16 and Sullivan chipped in 11, including two clutch free throws that gave Santa Barbara a 51-48 lead with 1:06 left in overtime.

But it was the defensive play and rebounding of Anais Jimenez, especially in the fourth quarter and in overtime, that enabled the Dons to come back from an eight-point deficit (43-35) in the last six minutes of regulation.

Anais Jimenez held Henderson scoreless in the fourth quarter and in the overtime after the Cougars’ powerful post player scored 10 points in the first half. She finished the game with 14, adding only four free throws in the third quarter.

"It was kind of rough," she said of battling against Henderson. "I’ve played against her for four years so I knew what I needed to do and what I shouldn’t do and how to defend her well."

Her play inspired the Dons and they responded by limiting Ventura to five points in the fourth quarter and three in the extra period.

"I thought Anais Jimenez did a real terrific on their big girl," Santa Barbara coach Andrew Butcher said. "She was killing us the whole game. I even talked to my assistant coach before overtime and said they should just move her to the side away from Anais because we’re in a zone, and they never did. But that was key.

"We didn’t give them many easy shots and we didn’t give them second shots in the fourth quarter and overtime."

Alondra Jimenez sparked the offense in the final quarter by hitting a pair of three-pointers to cut Ventura’s lead to 45-43 with 1:02 remaining.  She made five shots from behind the arc.

Ventura missed a shot and Miller grabbed her only rebound of the game and was knocked out of bounds.

Anais Jimenez inbounded the ball to Athena Saragoza and the freshman shot the ball long. Anais Jimenez, however, beat Henderson to the rebound on the weak side and scored the tying basket.

Ventura’s Carrasco, who knocked down six three-pointers in the game and scored 20 points, misfired on a trey at 1.5 seconds. Anais Jimenez got the rebound and time ran out as Butcher was trying to call timeout.

"It hit us that we needed to pick things up," Anais Jimenez said of the team's comeback in the fourth quarter. "We know we have the capability to do it and luckily we did. Everything fell into place. Luckily it was in our favor."

The Dons scored first in the overtime as Alondra Jimenez hit Gordon in transition for a layup.

Ventura had a three-point attempt go in and out and Alondra Jimenez came down court, dribble into an open space and nailed a 12-foot jumper for a 49-45 lead.

"Alondra played big today," said Butcher.

Anais Jimenez drew an offensive foul, but the Dons were unable to capitalize. Carrasco then buried a three to pull the Cougars within one, 49-48.

Ventura got the ball back but Sullivan came with a huge steal and was fouled. The Cougars called time out in hopes of icing her, but the senior calmly knocked down both free throws for a 51-48 lead.

"She did some good things," Butcher said of Sullivan. "Those are big free throws under pressure against her former school."

The result leaves Santa Barbara alone in first place at 3-0 and 9-2 overall. Ventura is 2-1 and 13-9.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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