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Girls Basketball

Ventura Tops Gold Division Field for SBHS Tournament of Champions

Santa Barbara faces tough opener; Dos Pueblos, San Marcos playing in Green Division

Cassandra Gordon is the leading scorer for Santa Barbara High. Gordon and the Dons open play in the Tournament of Champions against Los Alamitos. Click to view larger
Cassandra Gordon is the leading scorer for Santa Barbara High. Gordon and the Dons open play in the Tournament of Champions against Los Alamitos. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk file photo)

Ventura High has the opportunity to make history in Santa Barbara this week.

The Cougars are the top-seeded team in the Gold Division at the girls basketball Tournament of Champions, which tips off Tuesday at Santa Barbara High. If they can win the title on Friday night, they will complete the “Santa Barbara TOC Double,” as they took home the girls volleyball tournament championship during the fall season.

Ventura has the player who can lead it to a second TOC title in one school year: senior Aubrey Knight. The 6-foot-1 University of Colorado-bound center played middle blocker on the volleyball team and helped Ventura win the school’s first-ever CIF-Southern Section title. As a basketball player, she led the Cougars to the Division 1AA crown last year as well as back-to-back TOC finals.

Ventura lost to host Santa Barbara in last year’s final and fell to Sierra Canyon in the 2014 title game.

The Cougars enter this year’s TOC with a 5-1 record and a No. 9 ranking in the 1AA poll. Their lone loss came in the season opener against Serra, when Knight was still playing for the volleyball team in the state tournament.

North Torrance (8-2) is the No. 2 seed in the 16-team Gold Division. The Saxons are ranked 16th in the 1AA Division. South Bay neighbor Bishop Montgomery (4-2) is seeded third and Westview of San Diego (8-1) is the fourth seed.

(TOURNAMENT SCORES, BRACKETS)

The other teams in the Gold Division include Buena, Righetti, St. Joseph, Lompoc and Newbury Park from the area, as well as South Torrance, Huntington Beach-Edison, Los Alamitos, Orange Lutheran, Hanford and Clovis North. Buena, ranked No. 4 in Division 1A, is the only unbeaten team at 9-0.

Host Santa Barbara (4-4) opens Gold Division play against a 7-1 Los Alamitos team at 7:30 p.m., at J.R. Richards Gym. Los Alamitos is led by Caylin Crocker, considered one of the top sophomore guards in the state. She is drawing interest from several Pac-12 schools.

The tournament also features a Green Division. Sierra Pacific of Hanford (7-1) is the top seed. It returns eight players from a team that went 23-6, advanced to the Central Section semifinals and played in the CIF State Tournament.

Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, Santa Ynez and Pioneer Valley are the county teams competing in the Green Division. Channel Islands, San Luis Obispo, Rio Mesa, El Dorado, Nipomo, Hueneme, Arroyo Grande, San Marcos of San Diego and Seattle Prep of Washington round out the field.

Green Division games will be played at San Marcos and Bishop Diego. The championship is scheduled at Santa Barbara High at 6 p.m. on Friday.

The Gold Division title game is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at J.R. Richards Gym.

Dos Pueblos brings a 7-0 record and a No. 3 ranking in the Southern Section’s 2AA Division into the tournament. The Chargers open against Rio Mesa (5-5), which is No. 4 in 2A. The game is 3 p.m. at Bishop Diego.

San Marcos (5-6) plays Sierra Pacific at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday at the Thunderhut.

Gold Division
First Round Games
At Santa Barbara High

12 p.m. -- Righetti vs. Buena

1:30 p.m. -- Ventura vs. St. Joseph

3 p.m. -- South Torrance vs. Edison

4:30 p.m.-- Westview vs. Lompoc

6 p.m.-- Newbury Park vs Orange Lutheran

7:30 p.m. -- Santa Barbara vs. Los Alamitos

At San Marcos

6 p.m. -- Hanford vs. Bishop Montgomery

7:30 p.m. -- North Torrance vs. Clovis North

Green Division
At San Marcos
1:30 p.m. -- Arroyo Grande vs. Hueneme

3 p.m. -- El Dorado vs. Nipomo

4:30 p.m. -- Sierra Pacific vs. San Marcos

At Bishop Diego

3 p.m. -- Dos Pueblos vs. Rio Mesa

4:30 p.m. -- Seattle Prep vs. Pioneer Valley

6 p.m. -- San Luis Obispo vs. Channel Islands

7:30 p.m. -- San Diego-San Marcos vs. Santa Ynez

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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