San Marcos and Dos Pueblos, two girls’ basketball teams that traveled very different roads through the pre-season, began Channel League play Thursday at Sovine Gym. The rivals battled down to the wire, with Dos Pueblos holding off a late San Marcos rally to win 43-35.

The Chargers entered the game with a 13-5 record and a three-game winning streak while San Marcos has just four victories this season. Tmely three-point shooting and free throws helped San Marcos cut a 12-point Dos Pueblos lead to three in the final minute — but it was as close as the Royals would get.

Dos Pueblos opened the game with 10 points from Gabriella Delmese and eight from Sara Crane to take a 23-13 halftime lead. But the Royals were not ready to roll over.

Trailing by nine, Kalley Ridgeway opened the fourth quarter with a pair of three-pointers sandwiched around an offensive rebound and put-back by Kara Tucker to close the gap to four and give the Royals the momentum.

But Brianna Wiliford put the game out of reach for Dos Pueblos, drawing the foul and making the basket on a spinning layup that gave the Chargers a 39-33 lead with less than a minute to play. San Marcos’ only option on defense was to foul and Janelle Wong was a perfect four-for-four from the line to ice the game for Dos Pueblos.

Before the varsity game, the San Marcos junior varsity (11-2) squeaked out a 32-31 victory against Dos Pueblos’ JVs. The win gives San Marcos a 2-1 advantage in the season series and improves the Royals’ record to 11-2.

After opening the first quarter with a pair of three-pointers from Lyndsey Hsylop and Vanessa Curiel, to take a 9-3 lead, the Royals did not make another long shot until it counted — the last minute of the game.

Trailing 28-25 and with the clock ticking down, Hyslop drove into the middle of the DP defense and was fouled on a layup. The basket counted and the free throw was good to complete the old-fashioned three-point play. Moments later, Kelsey Brown found a loose ball at her feet beyond the three-point arc and sank the shot for the game-winner.

Dos Pueblos’ twin towers, Carly and Sam Wopat, combined for 18 points to lead the Chargers.

Dos Pueblos’ frosh/soph also picked up a victory to start the afternoon. In a defensive battle the entire way, the Chargers came out on top 17-12 behind a little three-point shooting of their own.

Momoko Gill had a pair of threes to finish with eight points, and Angie Catalan also hit a three-pointer for Dos Pueblos.

Jenise Fretz and Jaritza Rodriguez each scored four for the Royals.

The Chargers and Royals will meet again Jan. 29 at San Marcos. Meanwhile, San Marcos’ lower levels will play at Santa Barbara High on Thursday while the varsity takes on Santa Barbara at SBCC at 5:45 p.m. Friday. Dos Pueblos’ next game is Jan. 15 at Santa Barbara.

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