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Girls Basketball

Santa Barbara Girls Basketball’s Tournament of Champions Returns on Wednesday

Athena Saragoza Click to view larger
Athena Saragoza is the leading scorer for Santa Barbara High. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk file photo)

It took a lot of juggling but tournament director Aaron Solis was able to put together a field for Santa Barbara High’s girls basketball Tournament of Champions.

The four-day tournament, which normally is held just before Christmas, was moved to a Jan. 2 start date because several teams began league play in December due to the earlier start of the season.

Teams that start their league play after the holidays were unavailable for the tournament, thus making it a challenge to fill out the usual 16-team bracket. In past years, the tournament drew 32 teams that were divided into Gold and Green Divisions.

The tournament was cancelled last year due to the Thomas Fire.

This year's tournament has been reduced to nine teams  divided into pools of five and four. In order for teams to get their full complement of four games, Solis found three teams to fill in the gaps.

Host Santa Barbara will play its first two games against non-tournament teams Pioneer (on Wednesday at 7 p.m.) and Simi Valley (Thursday at 7). Simi Valley will play Santa Ynez on Friday and Righetti will fill the void on Saturday.

Pool A of the tournament includes Buena, Orange Lutheran, Hueneme, Oaks Christian and Santa Barbara. Pool B has Foothill Tech, JW North, Santa Ynez and Ventura.

The teams with the best records in each pool (including games against non-tourney entries) will meet for the championship on Saturday at 7 p.m.

JW North of Riverside is considered the tournament favorite. The Huskies are 12-3 and ranked in Division 1 of the CIF-Southern Section. They are led by dynamo guard Tyzajanae Fuller-Calhoun.

Orange Lutheran (11-4) is a top-10 team in the 2AA Division. The Lancers are led by senior guard Heather Park.

Buena (11-4) has a standout guard in Kaydn Mew. She is averaging 18 points a game.

Santa Barbara (6-6) has been led by sophomore Athena Saragoza and freshman Caia Trimble.


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