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St. Joseph, Perris Reign as Tournament Champions

Dos Pueblos claims Consolation Championship but San Marcos and Santa Barbara make quiet exits.

The Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, pitting some of the best high school girls’ basketball teams in California against each other, came to a close Saturday night at Santa Barbara High.

A rowdy crowd was on hand to see unbeaten St. Joseph of Santa Maria face Lutheran of Orange in the Green Division and Perris of Riverside take on Troy of Fullerton in the Gold Division.

Fans who came to see great basketball did not go home disappointed as both games went down to the wire. Perris blocked the potential winning shot at the buzzer to win 42-41 while St. Joseph survived a fourth-quarter comeback to prevail 42-36.

St. Joseph (10-0) entered the championship round having won each of its first three games by more than 30 points and without a defeat this season. The Knights’ signature trapping defense pushed them out to an early lead, and Devin Riezebos’ basket to open the fourth quarter put St. Joseph up 15 and in control.

Lutheran was not ready to concede, however, and with a flury of three-pointers fought its way back. As a team, the Lancers hit four threes in the final period to close the gap to 39-36, but that was as near as they would get when Ané McPike sunk both free throws to put the game on ice for St. Joseph.

McPike was named Most Valuable Player in the Green Division and Riezebos earned recognition on the all tournament team with her 18-point effort in the championship game.

St. Joseph head coach Ron Barba was not left with much of a voice after the game, but still was thrilled with the game and praised Lutheran’s intensity.

“I thought it was a really good defensive battle,” he said. “You’ve got to give credit to their girls. They played hard.”

After celebrating the win, Barba emphasized the Knights are not content with just this tournament victory. He has St. Joseph’s sights set on a league championship and beyond.

“Games like this help you win league titles," he said. "This game is what we wanted — late and tight and we handled the pressure” he said.

When asked about a potential move to the Gold Division, Barba replied, “We will definitely think about that next year.”

In the Gold Division championship nightcap, Perris and Troy looked just like the teams that have consistently played deep into the CIF playoffs. Troy took an early lead behind the shooting of guards Alex Sanchez and Amanda Sims. Perris’ shots could not seem to fall and the Panthers looked like a frustrated group at halftime.

However, Perris head coach Marvin Williams said after the game he was not worried early when his Panthers were finding it difficult to score.

“I know what the girls have in them,” he said. “They showed a lot of fight to come back and win. I’m very proud of them.”

Perris found a spark plug in the second half from guard Kiyana Stamps. In the third quarter, Stamps was perfect from the free-throw line and with the score tied at 39 with 31 seconds left in the game, Stamps was fouled on a layup. The ball went through the hoop and Stamps sank the free throw to give herself a team-high 20 points and the Panthers a three-point lead.

Sims came right back for Troy, making a spinning layup to cut the lead to one. Perris promptly turned the ball over on the inbounds, giving Troy one more chance with eight seconds left. However, Aishah Sutherland, who had struggled to find her shot all night, made up for it with her defense, stuffing the game-winning shot as time expired and sending Perris into a victory celebration at midcourt.

Despite a three-hour drive home ahead of him, Williams was still happy he brought his team to Santa Barbara for the tournament after winning two consecutive games by one point.

“That’s why we come up here, trying to get ready for the playoffs,” he said.

Earlier on Saturday, Dos Pueblos, San Marcos and Santa Barbara all wrapped up their tournament play.

Dos Pueblos claimed the Consolation Championship of the Green Division with a 62-28 victory over Nordhoff. After losing their first-round game to Lutheran, the Chargers swept their next three games, getting some career games from an assortment of players.

Brianna Williford had an encore performance to her 17-point career high Friday, scoring 21 against the Rangers on Saturday.

Sara Crane rallied the Chargers with 10 points in the first quarter to put Dos Pueblos out front.  The sophomore forward also had a career high, finishing with 14.

Crane and Williford were both named to the Green division all-tournament team for their efforts.

Dos Pueblos head coach Maynard Pilipal emphasized his team’s effort, over that of the individuals when evaluating the Chargers’ performance now that they have reached the halfway point of the season.

“It’s a different player stepping up every game, and everyone is contributing.  It showed tonight with all 10 players chipping in to score,” Pilapil said.

The Chargers (10-3) will return to action Dec. 27th in the Righetti tournament in Santa Maria.

San Marcos finished up its tournament play against St. Bonaventure. The Royals again were plagued by a lack of offense, and the Seraphs had their biggest fourth quarter of the year to win 44-33.

The Royals were unable to crack 35 points in a game since their first-round victory over Ventura’s junior varsity. In the first half, however, San Marcos got some much needed help from the bench to ignite some energy in the sluggish Royals.

Wendy Castro entered the game in the second quarter, ripped the ball from the Seraph she was guarding and fed Cara Tucker for a layup. Caroline Cawthon, also off the bench, had a quick four points to give the Royals the lead before halftime.

San Marcos’ offensive troubles began in the third quarter, however, with missed shots and turnovers, but the defense provided a 25-19 lead to start the final period.

St. Bonaventure turned the tide when guard Shelby Babcock took it upon herself to bring the Seraphs back. Babcock scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter and St. Bonaventure outscored San Marcos, 25-8, in
the period to wrap up the seventh-place game.

San Marcos (3-8) plays its next game Jan. 2 at Calabasas.

Santa Barbara head coach Andrew Butcher returned to the bench after missing the first two games of his career because of the flu.  Yet the Dons were unable to keep up with Cathedral of San Diego, which ran away with a 69-36 win.

Cathedral scored seven-straight fast break layups in the third quarter to take away any hope for Santa Barbara. Victoria Lippert was the day’s leading scorer with 28 points.

Santa Barbara’s (7-8) next game will be Jan. 3 when it opens Channel League play at Ventura.

For all final results, brackets and all-tournament teams, visit www.sbtoc.com.

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