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Sunday, March 24 , 2019, 11:37 am | A Few Clouds 60º

Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank

San Marcos Girls Keep Streak Alive

Royals beat Santa Barbara for third-straight rivalry win, 40-37.

In football, the San Marcos-Santa Barbara rivalry showdown is called "The Big Game.” In basketball, it might be the only game.

The Santa Barbara girls’ basketball team ran a streak of wins dating back to the 1980s against San Marcos in Channel League games, but the Royals are putting together a streak of their own. San Marcos’ 40-37 victory Friday night, gives the Royals three league victories in a row against the Dons.

The game was played at Santa Barbara City College, to accommodate the large crowd that turned out to see both the boys’ and girls’ teams battle. San Marcos coach Kristyn Miller knows all about big games in packed arenas, having played four years for UCSB in the Thunderdome. The fans at SBCC provided a little thunder themselves, filling the gym to capacity, screaming, yelling and cheering throughout the night.

“It’s such a fun environment to play and coach," Miller said. "Our girls were so amped they didn’t need a pre-game pep talk."

San Marcos (5-10, 1-1) came roaring out to start the game, taking an 11-6 lead. Junior Kalley Ridgway stepped into a starting role to score four points in the first quarter. But Santa Barbara (7-11, 0-2) was not finished, getting baskets from Larissa Lavender, Brandi Blackwell and Rebecca Griffin to take back the lead going into halftime.

Griffin came up with some last-second magic early for Santa Barbara, twice beating the buzzer for baskets. She drove coast-to-coast in four seconds to the lay in the ball as the first quarter ended and gave the Dons a 20-18 lead when her three-pointer banked in to end the half.

The Royals answered to start the third quarter with a three-pointer from Lisa Reed. Ridgeway also struck from long distance, and a pair of layups from both Lyndsey Pearson and Kara Tucker put San Marcos out front, 31-28.

San Marcos’ long-range shooting came up big, to the surprise of Santa Barbara coach Andrew Butcher.

“They shot a little better from the perimeter than we thought they would, but give them credit — they hit their shots,” he said.

The Royals had four three-pointers in the game, two from Ridgway and one each from Reed and Pearson.

But it was a basket inside that turned out to be the winner for San Marcos on a layup by Jennifer Waddill that put the Royals up, 38-33.With San Marcos’ lead down to two and six seconds showing on the clock, Pearson went to the line to ice the game.

Victory was on the Royals’ mind.

“I wanted to win because we haven’t had many wins this season and Santa Barbara was one of our team goals,” Pearson said.

The Royals can check that one off the list as Pearson made the first free throw to give San Marcos a three-point cushion. Griffin had one more chance to beat the buzzer, but her half-court heave came up short and the Royals celebrated on the court.

The two teams will continue the rivalry Jan. 31, back at SBCCC. On Tuesday, San Marcos plays Ventura at home while Santa Barbara hosts Dos Pueblos.

Alex Sheldon coaches San Marcos’ junior varsity girl’s basketball team.

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