Ariel Plourde buried a three-pointer at the end of regulation, and the San Marcos girls basketball made three more bonus baskets in overtime to pull out a 56-52 victory over Santa Barbara High in a wild Channel League game on Thursday night at the Thunderhut.
The win over the Dons achieved a team goal for San Marcos, which hadn’t beaten its crosstown rival since 2008.
Down 43-41, San Marcos seemed headed for another loss against Santa Barbara after turning the ball over with 8.9 seconds left in regulation. The Royals fouled Dayzia Mendoza, and she made one of two free throws to put the Dons ahead 44-41 with 5.6 seconds left.
San Marcos grabbed the rebound and worked the ball up the sideline to Plourde, who squared up and banked in a game-tying three-pointer just as the buzzer sounded.
“We kind of just made that up in the moment,” Plourde said of the game-tying shot. “I was feeling it. We were playing together as a team, and I just knew it was going in. I was ready for it; we were all ready for it.”
San Marcos coach Tiffany Simms said she had no thoughts of calling a timeout after the Royals rebounded the missed free throw.
“I just had faith in my team,” she said. “We practice this.
“This has been a goal of (these players) since I took over the program. They just did what we practice. I tell them practice how you want to play. They believed it. Everybody was patient today, everybody was focused. We played as a team and it just works.”
Plourde made four three-pointers in the game and scored a team-high 21 points.
“She has improved her game so much,” Simms said. “We call her the ‘General’ because she is steadfast and laser-focused when she’s on the court. You can’t ask for much more of a point guard.”
On her clutch three-pointer, “She was just cool and just went into it,” Simms said. “She makes that shot every day in practice. She did a great job making it.”
The Royals made 10 three-pointers in the game.
San Marcos improves to 6-2 in league while Santa Barbara falls to 4-4.
“It was a great game, and I want to congratulate San Marcos,” Santa Barbara coach Andrew Butcher said. “The senior hit that crazy shot to put it in overtime, and what can you say? If we’re that close to winning, we’re pretty happy.
“I told the players after the game that it stings, but we did a lot of good things. If you’d told us a week ago that we’d be ahead with a tenth of a second left tonight, I’d say that would be crazy.”
Plourde said the Royals were determined to end their victory drought against Santa Barbara.
“We all wanted it really bad,” she said. “We came into this game with 100% effort, 100% passion, and we were just ready to play and excited to make history. We hadn’t beat SB in the longest time.”
The Royals accomplished it by playing aggressive defense, making threes and scrapping on the boards.
“We just stayed composed and patient, and I just had faith in my girls, and they finally had the faith in themselves, played as a team and then got the victory that they deserved,” Simms said.
Guard Ellie Monson was the catalyst behind San Marcos’ tremendous effort. Giving away about seven inches in height, she hounded Santa Barbara’s standout freshman Elle Stone in a box-and-one defense.
Stone scored 25 points, but Monson made her work for them.
“Amazing, amazing defense,” Plourde raved about Monson’s tenacious play. “Her whole heart is in the game and she just loves to play. She is an amazing defender and she has so much aggression, so much intensity, so much energy on the floor, and I love to see it.
“It’s just so exciting to watch her play defense because we know when we put her on a player, she can lock them up.”
Simms said of Monson: “She’s strong and she’s tough on D. She might be short, but she’s our big man. That’s what we call her because she has the heart of a 6-foot-6 player. She didn’t back down from Elle. She took the challenge, she played tough defense and played a helluva game.”
Monson was also a big contributor on offense in the overtime. She hit a three-pointer during a run of three straight long-range shots that put the Royals up 55-46 with 1:17 left in the extra period. She also made a free throw before fouling out with 50 seconds left.
The Royals turned the game around with a 17-0 run in the third quarter to erase a 26-16 Santa Barbara lead. Plourde, Carly Nielsen and Arellanes buried consecutive three-pointers to put San Marcos in the lead, 33-26. Arellanes had 15 points.
Stone hit two free throws and converted a three-point play to bring the Dons within two, 33-31, at the end of the quarter.
Plourde hit a floater and a three-pointer to put San Marcos ahead 38-35. But Santa Barbara responded with baskets by Stone and Violet Hamer to take a 39-38 lead.
Plourde tied the score with a free throw after being fouled on an offensive rebound and then stole an inbound pass for a layup to put San Marcos in the lead, 41-39, with 2:45 left in the fourth quarter.
Stone tied the score on a drive and then intercepted a pass and was fouled on another drive. She made both free throws with 28 seconds left for a 43-41 lead.
San Marcos threw the ball away and Stella Borgioli fed Mendoza, who was fouled with 5.6 seconds left. She made the first free throw and missed the second, leaving the Royals enough time to feed Plourde for her big shot.
“I think we gave her the shot that was the best percentage to give us the best chance to win and she banked it in,” Butcher said. “And she’s banked a lot of threes in her career. That one was maybe the best one for her.”
He was pleased with the team’s defense in the first half as the Dons led 20-14 at halftime, but they were getting beat on the boards.
“If we just rebounded the ball a little better, I think we could have had a lead big enough that they couldn’t have come back,” Butcher said. “You’ve got to rebound.”
He added that three-pointers by Monson and Arellanes in the overtime were tough.
“Those six points really hurt us,” he said. “The last three games that last minute we’ve lost our game plan, and that’s just youth. We got to stick to the game plan for every minute.”
The two teams meet again on Saturday in the regular-season finale at Santa Barbara at 4 p.m.